Girl Finds Pre-Viking Sword While Wading in Swedish Lake
There have been many remarkable discoveries in lakes, over the centuries. One such find has just been recently announced in Sweden. A young girl found an incredibly rare 5 th or 6 th century AD sword in a lake in the west of the country. The find is believed to be a very important one, as there have been relatively few pre-Viking artifacts uncovered in Scandinavia and it is greatly exciting the archaeological community in Sweden.
The little girl and the sword
Saga Vanecek was out swimming near her home in Vidöstern lake in Småland, which is very popular in the summer months. Saga was swimming in an unidentified part of the lake when she stepped on something in the water. She is quoted in The Local SE, as saying she ‘felt something in the water and lifted it up. It was a handle’. Naturally she was very curious and took it home and she showed it to her father and told him that it looked like a sword.
The young girl was excited and so too were local experts when they saw the sword. The artifact was presented to the Jönköpings Läns Museum by the eight-year-old. The staff at the museum were amazed by the find and how it was discovered. The Local SE reports that Mikael Nordström of the museum stated that "it's not every day that one steps on a sword in the lake!" The local experts immediately recognized that the object was extremely significant.
Mikael Nordström and sword finder Saga Vanecek with a photo of the sword near Vidöstern lake. (Image: SVT)
At first the weapon was believed to be one thousand years old and from the era of the Vikings. However, after further investigations a team of experts claimed that it was even older than first believed. They now have concluded that the artifact is over 1500 years old. In the 5 th and 6 th century AD, Scandinavia was peopled by Germanic tribes, whose society was undergoing changes due to migration and the impact of the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Iron age sword found by the 8-year-old whilst swimming in the lake. (Jönköpings läns Museum)
The mystery of the sword
The sword is about 85 cm (33 inches) long and despite its age there is still some wood and metal around the weapon. There is now a race to conserve the precious item, which will be a long process. However, this will not only save the artifact for future generations but also allow experts to examine details of the sword which could reveal more about its history and the period in which it was forged.
A full search with metal detectors and divers was undertaken in the area the sword was found. (Jönköpings läns Museum)
The reasons as to why the sword came to be in the water are not known. Initially, experts believed that there may have been ancient burial located in the vicinity, but this does not seem to be the case. Then there is the theory that it may have been a sacrifice to some deity or spirit in the lake, something which has occurred throughout history.
The discovery of the sword prompted a search of the lake and the Pictorial reports that Nordström, stated that, “we found another prehistoric object; a brooch from around the same period as the sword.” A second search was also conducted but this was very disappointing with the oldest item found dating from the 1700s and mostly just modern trash was pulled from the waters of Vidöstern.
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In the underwater search this brooch from the same period was found. (Jönköpings läns Museum)
In order to ensure that looters and others do not go near the site, the local museum asked the little girl to keep the location where she found the ancient weapon secret. This meant that she could not tell her story in full until now. It is hoped that the sword will eventually go on display, after it has been examined and conserved. As of yet there is no news if Saga will receive any reward for her astounding find.
Other sword finds
There have been other finds of swords in Scandinavia. Recently divers found a Viking era sword in Lake Mjøsa in Norway, which was possibly used in executions. Also, in Norway four hunters found a very well-preserved sword on a mountain slope in Oppland. Of course, not everything retrieved from a lake is of archaeological significance. One seven-year-old girl while paddling in a lake believed that she had found the mystical sword Excalibur, once wielded by King Arthur. However, sadly the item was only a few decades old and most likely a discarded film prop.
Top image: The sword has been dated to the 5 th or 6 th century. Source: Jönköpings läns Museum
By Ed Whelan