• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swedish archaeologists find Thor's Hammer

1 Apr 2013, 16:42

Published: 01 Apr 2013 16:42 GMT+02:00

The hammer was found in the granite bedrock of Södermalm island in Stockholm, where engineers are excavating a tunnel to redirect the suburban commuter trains in one of the capital's biggest infrastructure investments since the metro was built.

"It was a case of shock and awe when one of my engineers recognized engravings on the object to be Norse runes," Citybanan project manager Johan Leber told The Local.

"I at first thought it was piping sticking out of the ground," added engineer Rav Pidertni.

"There are caverns underneath Södermalm, like the one they use for the Midnight Run half-marathon, but nobody had told us to expect running into other pre-existing sites."

Upon closer inspection, the object was discovered to be a handle, not piping, but as the Indian-born excavation expert was not familiar with Norse myths he didn't recognize what turned out to be rune writing.

"I reacted instead to the object being made of metal and heavily engraved, beautifully so, in fact," Pidertni told Swedish archaeology trade publication Stenarna ('The Stones').

The excavation team then alerted management, who in turn asked city hall for guidelines. Much of the project has focused on keeping vibrations from the blasts at a minimum in order not to damage architectural landmarks above ground.

"As we're going straight through the bedrock, we never expected to encounter anything down here," said Leber.

SEE ALSO: Click here for ten English words you didn't know came from the Vikings

Although analysts have yet to identify the metal, experts told Stenarna it was likely a complex alloy, as there was no oxidation on the surface of the giant hammer.

The object, engraved in intricate runes and lightning bolts, measures more than 60 centimetres from handle to head. Once removed, experts said it would likely weigh more than 50 kilogrammes. Because half of the hammer head is still stuck in the rock, archaeologists have said they do not want to release the translation of the runes to the public before they can access the entire text.

Several question marks remain, however, not only because there are few known replicas of the thunder god's hammer, but also because the location in which it was found sheds little light on its provenance.

Although a new ecosystem, including a species of moss not seen in Sweden since the 1930s, was found in a cavern of the Kungsträdgården metro station last year, archaeologists called to the Citybanan scene were completely floored by the new find.

"If there had been an existing cavern here, we would have no doubt assumed this was a copy of Mjölnir used by Viking leaders in rites and ceremonies," said Lhodgeec N'Dreesun, chairman at the Norse Myth Appreciation Society in Borås.

The object, however, was found partially encased in granite. A specialist archaeological team, with experts called in from Iceland and Denmark and niche Swedish smiths, has ordered that the hammer remain in the tunnel until some initial tests can be run.

"I don't think my colleagues understand the empirical implications of this," N'Dreesun told The Local.

"It's easy for us scientists to slip into atheism by some kind of default, a work hazard of sorts, but I have no idea how to explain this."

Unlike many figures in dominant world religions, such as historical figures Jesus or the Buddha, religious experts long assumed that the pantheon of gods in the Norse myths were symbolic characters.

Thor, the god of lightning, lives on in both the Swedish and English words for Thursday (torsdag). According to Statistics Sweden, 1,896 people in Sweden are named Tor or Thor - one of them is a woman.

And Sweden is no stranger to Viking relics, with the southern plains and the fertile agricultural lands around the Mälaren Lake in central Sweden littered with rune stones.

Powerful Viking leaders were sometimes buried with their riches, including ships and human sacrifices -- often slaves -- placed in the earth alongside them, only to be unearthed centuries later by archaeologists.

Depictions of the gods are not unheard of either. Several statues with enlarged phalluses have been found and are known to be replicas of the Norse fertility god Frey.

"We have documented many depictions of the gods, including decoration of the Viking longships," said Nordic history archivist Mary Grandsson in discussing the recent find.

"This is different, this is a full-scale depiction of an object that belonged to a god."

Grandsson said that while other gods were associated with specific objects, including love goddess Freya's Sessrumnir necklace or Odin's horse Sleipnir, Mjölnir was by far the most well-known.

Several small versions of Mjölnir, many with a loop allowing it to be threaded and worn as a necklace, have been found over the years. As cheap knickknacks, they are still flogged off to tourists visiting Sweden.

"There is even a Hollywood film now about Thor, which I thought was rather silly but fun," Grandsson said.

As for the mystery of how the object came to be stuck in the bedrock, she said it was a question for the engineers and the archaeologists to crack.

"Obviously someone put it there, maybe the Citybanan blasts destroyed a previously undocumented cavern or something," she speculated.

Story continues below…

The Local

Follow The Local on Twitter

April Fool's

As the night draws near in Sweden we can now reveal our chicanery, skulduggery and general tomfoolery.

As many readers no doubt have guessed, the above article has very little basis in fact bar a couple of notable exceptions:

The Citybanan project is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Stockholm since the metro was built.

Freya did have a necklace, but it was called Brisinga, not Sessrumnir as stated in the article.

Odin did have a horse called Sleipnir.

And for our dedicated commenters, we chose to name our "experts" in this article after a select few of them: Svensk Smith, Logic and Reason, Johan Rebel, GrandMary, and Intrepid Fox. Happy April to you.

This article was updated at 7:40pm.

Related links:

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedes discover secret 150-metre-long cave
Per Bäckström on his way into the cave. Photo: Alexander Bennerstål/TT

They are believed to be the first people to venture into this hidden cave on the Baltic island of Gotland.

No arrests after boy's death in Gothenburg grenade attack
The scene at the apartment in Biskopsgården two days after the attack.Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

UPDATED: Almost 200 people paid their respects at the funeral of an eight-year-old boy killed in a Gothenburg grenade attack. But police told The Local they have yet to make any arrests in the case.

Swedish couple banned from owning animals kept 100 cats
Not the cats mentioned in the article. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Animal protection officers seized around 100 cats from the couple in Halland.

'Unfriendly' Swedes give expats the cold shoulder
Is it difficult to make friends with Scandinavians? Photo: Berit Roald/NTB scanpix/TT

Sweden is among the most difficult countries for foreigners to feel at home in, according to a new survey.

Is this the most Swedish wedding cake ever?
A chocolate ball enters a mouth. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

That's a lot of balls!

Sweden's most beautiful places revealed
West-coast serenity in Onsala, Halland. Photo: Mikael Tigerström

Is the west coast the best coast?

Swedish woman bumps into bear near pub
This is not the bear Valeria Möller met in Skellefteå. Photo: Bernard Boehne

If you go down to the pub tonight...

Stockholm school segregates boys and girls in gym class
A gym class for first-graders. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

"Some of our girls want to be able to take off their veils and wear shorts and T-shirts in their classes," a teacher explained.

This Brit moved to Sweden and opened his dream café
Härnösand café owner Shaun Corby. Photo: Johanna Corby

Shaun Corby tells The Local how following his Swedish wife to Härnösand turned out to be the best move he ever made.

Missing Swedish billionaire found dead
In the early 1980s, Ericsson was known as the ’Golden boy’ of the west coast. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Swedish entrepreneur and billionaire Christer Ericsson, who went missing during a fishing trip two months ago, has been found dead on the west coast.

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th-28th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
What are Sherpas doing on Sweden's highest mountain?
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,385
jobs available