Traveler buried his gold and never returned — then volunteer found it 800 years later

Passing through modern-day Germany, a traveler stopped and buried his valuables in a bag. Although he likely planned to return for the gold items, he never did. Instead, he vanished, his treasure lost and forgotten for centuries.

Nicki Andreas Steinmann was a volunteer-in-training learning to use a metal detector properly, the Archaeological State Office of Schleswig-Holstein said in a Feb. 17 news release. He was working with an instructor near the Haithabu and Danewerk World Heritage Site.

Haithabu was a Viking trade center and settlement from the eighth to 11th centuries, according to the German UNESCO World Heritage Sites Association.

Steinmann’s instructor assigned him an area near the Viking trade center to scan with a metal detector, the release said. Searching the area, he found something.

Buried in the dirt, Steinmann found a few coins and some gold artifacts. He called in the field director to look at the finds and further excavate the area.

Steinmann had stumbled on a gold hoard buried by a traveler about 800 years before, archaeologists said. Although some objects had been shifted around, some of the coins were still stacked on top of each other, indicating they were buried together.

The stash included two high-quality gold earrings carefully crafted in a Byzantine style, the release said. Photos show the intricate jewelry. Although some are missing, each earring was originally decorated with about a dozen colorful stones.

The gold earrings found buried.

A gold-plated robe clasp was also uncovered, an imitation of an Islamic coin, experts said. The clasp was decorated with intricate Arabic writing, photos show.

A few of the coins found buried.

A few of the coins found buried.

Archaeologists unearthed 30 coins in the hoard. Many of these coins dated to the reign of the Danish king Waldemar II who ruled from 1202 to 1241, the release said. Among the coins, a few fragments of fabric were preserved, indicating the items were likely buried in a bag.

The imitation gold coin used as a robe clasp.

The imitation gold coin used as a robe clasp.

Although the items were found near the Viking-era trade center, the age of the coins indicates the hoard was buried after Haithabu was destroyed, experts said. Two gold-plated rings, a ring fragment and a few other small gold discs were also uncovered, the release said.

The Haithabu and Danewerk World Heritage Site is near Busdorf in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, about 335 miles northwest of Berlin.

Google Translate was used to translate the news release from the Archaeological State Office of Schleswig-Holstein (Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein).

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