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In April, 2014, a metal detector operator found a treasure hoard from the 1290’s. It consisted of coins and fragments of jewellery. In addition, there were finds not directly connected to the hoard, including a seal (for sealing wax) with a coat of arms and the name Nicolaus Hvitæ - Niels Hvide.
In early October, the Department of Landscape and Archaeology conducted a minor investigation of this treasure hoard and related finds. The goal of it was partly to save the remaining fragments of the objects themselves, and also to discover the context of the treasure.
We have now established that the treasure consists of 220 coins from the 1290’s and two broken ring clasps of gilded silver, one of them inlaid with crystal and amethyst stones. The entire treasure hoard was found in the soil layer, spread out over an area measuring 10 x 15 meters. There were no traces of the original position for the “buried treasure”.
Around the find area, which is low-lying and close to the edge of a meadow, the soil is rich with remains of human activity, like potsherds, iron objects, ash and stones that have been heated in fires. Either the treasure hoard was buried in this vicinity on purpose, or the coins and jewellery were dropped by accident in a leather pouch or similar holder; the whole treasure is only a good handful. But of course we will never know for sure.
Right next to the treasure, on slightly higher ground, the remains of a house were found, measuring 18 x 5 meters. Black circles in the clay under the ploughed layer of soil mark the post holes where the walls and roof beams were placed. Finer details like the doorway and the floor, etc., are long gone. Judging by the type of house, there is no doubt that the house is contemporary with the treasure hoard; it’s likely that the homeowners also were the owners of the treasure hoard. There were, in all likelihood, other buildings on the farm, but if so, they lie beyond the area we were able to investigate at this time.
The stamp with Niels Hvide’s seal lay at the edge of this area; it was not lost or buried with the treasure. Doesn’t it seem likely that Niels Hvide owned both the farm and the treasure? What went wrong in the 1290’s, since the treasure was buried and never recovered? Was there war, illness or a fire at the farm? Their valuables were lost to them at that time, but it is our luck that the treasure is now brought together again.
Picture: Excavation Plan - Niels Hvide's Farm: The house (Black), the treasure (red), the seal (star)