• 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
Baby dies after midwife denies woman's request for c-section
Uppsala University Hospital. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

The midwife insisted on six attempts at vaginal birth before an emergency caesarean section was carried out.

Don't let them bite! Bedbugs proliferate in Swedish hotels
Swedish bedbug fighter Jonny Ström does his thing in 2014. Library photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The number of bedbugs in Swedish hotels has doubled in recent years, according to figures from pest control firm Anticimex.

Swedish state agencies 'outsource jobs to spies'
The Stockholm headquarters of the Swedish Security Service, Säpo. File photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Foreign countries are trying to infiltrate the Swedish state by winning government contracts, it has been claimed.

What's on in Sweden
The most stunning Swedish festival spots this week
The Norberg Festival at an old ore mine. Photo: Peo Bengtsson

How about a party on an island, in an old quarry or a former mining camp? That's all on offer in Sweden this week.

Swedish police backtrack on 'gunfight' claims
The scene of the shooting on June 22nd. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Police have retracted a claim that a suspected gunman had fired shots at a patrol unit before officers shot him dead.

Crayfish poachers send Swedes' blood boiling
Has anyone seen this crayfish? Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Oh no, not just before crayfish season!

Police hunt suspected gunman, 22, in Malmö
Rosengård Centrum. Photo: Simon Paulin/SvD/TT

Malmö police are looking for a 22-year-old suspect in connection with a shooting at a shopping centre in Rosengård.

Really old stinky cheese found on royal Swedish shipwreck
A diamond ring, the stinky cheese and gold coins. Photo: Lars Einarsson/Kalmar County Museum

Swedish scientists have discovered what is believed to be 340-year-old cheese on board a 17th century shipwreck.

Man charged with groping girls at kids' football cup
The accused in court. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

A 36-year-old sports manager whose team was sent home from Sweden after he was accused of groping three teenage girls at an international children's football tournament now faces trial.

Concern over barrage of fake Russian news in Sweden
The Russian propaganda site Sputnik News

Sweden is being subjected to constant disinformation campaigns by Russia and Isis, according to authorities.

Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
Politics
Why Sweden's high taxes are not as high as you think
National
What's haggis in a condom doing on Swedish children's TV?
National
Meet the northern Swede who is the world's best mosquito killer
Blog updates

26 July

A summer of change; a summer of beauty (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"You would have had to try hard to miss the political upheavals in the UK after…" 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
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,351
jobs available