Uppåkra near Lund is Scandinavia’s largest 1st millennium settlement site and may (for some definitions of “town”) have been the first town north of Germany. Its finds are absolute top-quality and occur in vast numbers. For many object types, there are now more specimens from Uppåkra only than we used to have from all of Sweden. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some 7th/8th century brooch types from the site, and I always read news about the ongoing investigations at Uppåkra with great interest.
Now they’ve found something unique again. Rolf Petré calls it a mount, possibly for a small exclusive box. The style is in my opinion definitely 8th century (not late-10th as Petré suggests). The piece is unlikely to depict a Judaeo-Christian angel as Christianisation hadn’t come very far in Scandinavia at the time. But as the Uppåkra team notes, Norse mythology offers two immediate interpretations: either a god wearing Freya’s magic falcon cloak, or Wayland the Smith wearing the feathered cloak he made to escape from his captivity with King Niðhad. The second option is attractive, I’d like to add, as we actually have a small exclusive 8th century box bearing Wayland’s image: the Franks Casket.
Congratulations (and huge envy) to the colleagues who get to dig at Uppåkra for a living! Note that thanks to them, this find has an exact, undisturbed stratigraphical context.