Gold bracteate from the Migration Period (400-550 A.D) found in Ridabu, Norway

New homes are to be built close to where I live, and I thought it would be a good idea to search the area for old artefacts! After reading several articles in the local newspaper and a book on the subject, as well as attending a detecting course held by the heritage section of the county council, I contacted a detectorist nearby and asked for recommendations on equipment. I ended up with an XP DEUS with additional HF search coil.

It turned out (of course) that excavation was already planned on the fields in the relevant plot of land to be developed and that the detectorist that I had contacted had been hired to carry out the metal search in the project. But thankfully due to a close and good cooperation between detectorists and county archaeologists in the county, I was allowed to participate with the status “under training”. After some dry training in my own garden to become familiar with the equipment, a search was underway 4-5 hours every day.

Retired IT consultant and beginner detectorist, Nils Wulfsberg, well underway with the project work.Retired IT consultant and beginner detectorist, Nils Wulfsberg, well underway with the project work.

Retired IT consultant and beginner detectorist, Nils Wulfsberg, well underway with the project work.

 

 

 

After 2 weeks, all fields were searched, without any significant archaeological discoveries being made. On the afternoon of Friday 30 April 2021 at the bottom of a field, I found the first nice button, a “five leaf clover”, and soon afterwards I discovered coin-like glistening object. Could it be gold?

The gold bracteate lit up in the spring sunshine!
The gold bracteate lit up in the spring sunshine!
Was it the discovery of the five leaf-clover button that brought fortune?
Was it the discovery of the five leaf-clover button that brought fortune?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took accurate GPS coordinates and reported the find to the chief archaeologist and field archaeologist at the end of the day. They said that it was a gold bracteate from before the Viking Age, adding that I would probably never find anything of this value ever again.

The back of a gold-bracteate shows a relief and a mirror image of the front. It has a diameter of 26 mm and a weight of 3,24 g.
The back of a gold-bracteate shows a relief and a mirror image of the front. It has a diameter of 26 mm and a weight of 3,24 g.
The back of a gold-bracteate shows a relief and a mirror image of the front. It has a diameter of 26 mm and a weight of 3,24 g.
The back of a gold-bracteate shows a relief and a mirror image of the front. It has a diameter of 26 mm and a weight of 3,24 g.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gold bracteate was found about 10 cm deep, lacked the loop of the pendant and was slightly bent. But gold holds up well, the pattern and décor is clearly visible. I used the XP DEUS with the 22-inch HF coil and program #9-HOT.  The signal was clear with an ID of 60-70, so there was no doubt that it had to be dug.

The county’s heritage section immediately investigated the site and dug new trenches in the following days. Gold bracteates are most common as offerings or burial finds, but unfortunately nothing more of interest was uncovered.

The discovery was first published by the county on Facebook “Cultural Heritage in Inland Norway”, where they, write:

gold bracteate7

 

Previously, only a few such gold items have been found in Norway, and only a similar one inland! We have had a specialist look at the bracteate, and he says that this specimen is unique!

 

Furthermore, they write: Innlandet county municipality is in the process of registering cultural heritage at upper Ridabu, not far from the Iron Age power centre at Åker. The detectorists Nils Wulfsberg and Øivind Moe have been involved as trusted helpers in the archaeological mapping work. The detectorists check the soil for small archaeological metal items that might otherwise be difficult to find.

There is great excitement in finding objects that might otherwise be destroyed or never found. It is great fun to find a gold amulet from before the Viking Age and know that it is being preserved for future generations. I have now spent many hours on the fields and the DEUS metal detector is a pleasure to use as it does not weigh much and easy to use with clear signals for diggable items. In the same field I also found some coins and the following interesting items:

A wedding ring with inscription 8 Feb. 1879 and signet (seal) from the 19th century, both of which were handed over to farm owners.
A wedding ring with inscription 8 Feb. 1879 and signet (seal) from the 19th century, both of which were handed over to the farm owner.
A wedding ring with inscription 8 Feb. 1879 and signet (seal) from the 19th century, both of which were handed over to farm owners.
A wedding ring with inscription 8 Feb. 1879 and signet (seal) from the 19th century, both of which were handed over to the farm owner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nils Wulfsberg, Hamar 15. June  2021