Swedish Viking treasure rescued for public by charity funds

A Viking treasure hoard, which historians in Sweden feared would be lost in a sale to private buyers, has been saved by two charitable foundations. It will now go on display in public museums.

Swedish Viking treasure rescued for public by charity funds
An archive photo of the Everlöv Hoard when it was put on display in Lund in 1986. Photo: Historical Museum at Lund University

The collection, which was to be sold in a controversial auction on Friday April 29th, has instead been bought in its entirety by the Gunnar Ekström Foundation for Numismatic Research and the Sven Svensson Foundation for Numismatic Research. 

It will now go on display as part of the Royal Coin Cabinet at Stockholm’s Economy Museum. 

The collection forms part of the so-called Everlöv Hoard. The youngest coin has been dated to 1018, placing it in the Viking era, while the oldest coin dates back to the 800s.

“It’s great news that the Everlöv find can be kept together as part of our shared cultural heritage, and will be available for research,” museum head Cecilia von Heijne told union magazine Magasin K.

Birgitta Hårdh, a professor emeritus of archaeology at Lund University, who originally described the sale as “a great tragedy”, also welcomed the news.

“It’s really good news, I’m so happy about this!” she told the magazine.

Hårdh has been campaigning for the hoard to become state property since the 1980s.

“Now the treasure has been saved and there will a chance to study it. I hope it will be put on display soon so people can get to see it,” she said.

Gitte Ingvardsson, a numismatician – someone who collects or studies coins – at Lund’s Historical Museum, said the acquisition was “the best news in a long time!”

“I’m extremely happy to hear that the hoard will be preserved in its entirety, and I’m grateful to my colleagues in Stockholm who have made a great effort to ensure that this story has a happy ending”.

The hoard, comprising of 912 coins and 40 silver items, was found in the 1980s inside a chiffonier, a type of wooden furniture similar to a sideboard.

A relative of the current owner of the hoard had placed the items in the chiffonier which had then been passed down through the generations to different members of the family.

The original plan was that the hoard would be put on sale in widely-criticised auction on April 29th.

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Centuries-old time capsule opened in Stockholm Cathedral

Multiple time capsules from the 1700s and early 1900s were discovered during renovation works at Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan).

Centuries-old time capsule opened in Stockholm Cathedral

The first and oldest of the boxes, from 1742, contained a tightly-folded A3-size piece of paper covered in elaborate handwriting stating that the old tower was removed in 1736 and the new one was completed in 1742, a date which had not previously been confirmed.

“This is the nicest capsule I’ve ever opened,” building restoration expert Max Laserna told church magazine Kyrkans Tidning.

“The handwriting from 1742 was so beautiful, almost like a piece of art, it really stood out,” he said.

The capsule from 1903 was flat like an envelope and difficult to open. It contained a newspaper, some letters and an old piece of sheet metal with the text “gammal plåt” (old sheet metal), presumably a piece of the old roof from the 1700s.

A historian opens the time capsule from 1742. The younger time capsule from the early 1900s can be seen in the background. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The final capsule from 1930 contained a gilded piece of metal along with a number of daily and weekly newspapers. This piece of metal sparked a renovation of the cathedral’s spire when it was discovered on the ground one morning after falling down from the cathedral’s roof.

There was also a rusty nail in the same capsule along with a ten-page long text titled “An account of the 1929 renovation”. According to Laserna, such a detailed report is a rare find.

Similarly to 1929, the current decision to renovate the cathedral was made when a large piece of stone was discovered on the ground outside in 2016. Upon investigation, it was discovered that it had also fallen down from the roof, which had loose plaster in many areas and needed renovation.

The cathedral’s facade is currently being renovated and will return to the same pink colour it had in the 1700s. It is expected to cost over 100 million kronor and be finished in January 2023.

The time capsule tradition will be continued, with a new capsule being placed in the cathedral’s tower to mark this renovation. 2022’s capsule will include pictures of the workers who carried out renovations, drawings from five-year-olds and a copy of Kyrkans Tidning – to be opened the next time a piece of stone or metal falls down from the heavens, maybe in another 100 years’ time.