Two metal detecting hobbyists in eastern Germany have found what archaeologists are calling a "significant" treasure hoard, which may have been owned by the Danish king Harald Gormsson, better known as "Harry Bluetooth." Bluetooth is credited by historians as the Viking king who brought Christianity to Denmark.
René Schön and his student, 13-year-old Luca Malaschnitschenko, were metal detecting back in January in a field located at the northern end of Rügen Island when the boy dug what the pair first thought was a piece of aluminum. It didn't take them long to realize the artifact was made of silver.
The two contacted authorities about their discovery and were sworn to secrecy until the government could get an archaeological team to the site. Last weekend, state-sponsored archaeologists began excavating the site and have revealed even more treasure, including necklaces, pearls, brooches, a Thor-style hammer, rings and up to 600 chipped coins.
"It's the biggest trove of such coins in the south-eastern Baltic region," a statement from the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state archaeology office said.
According to The Guardian, many of the coins date to Bluetooth's reign which was from 958 to 986 AD. He ruled over an area that includes Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.
"This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of great significance," lead archaeologist, Michael Schirren, told the news agency DPA.
Archaeologists theorize the treasure may have been buried around the time Bluetooth was known to have fled to Pomerania. He died there in 987.
This is not the first treasure trove linked to Bluetooth that has been found. Another hoard of gold objects known as the Hiddensee treasure was found in 1873 on the German island of Hiddensee in the Baltic Sea. The objects are believed to have been owned by Bluetooth's family.
According to Wikipedia, the history behind Bluetooth's conversion to Christianity is contested because two medieval writers give conflicting accounts of his conversion.
But Denmark was known to be the first country in Scandinavia to become Christianized. Bluetooth himself declared this fact around 975 AD with the erection of a monument known as a Jelling runic stone, which still exists today.
The rune inscription on the Jelling stone reads:
"King Harald bade these memorials to be made after Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother. The Harald who won the whole of Denmark and Norway and turned the Danes to Christianity."
The Encyclopedia Britannica claims the runic inscription is the best known in Denmark.
The oldest church building still in existence was also constructed of stone and is located in what was then Denmark (now southern Sweden). The Dalby Holy Cross Church dates to 1040 AD.
However, Bluetooth's lasting worldly legacy is found in today's smartphones and laptops. The inventor of the wireless Bluetooth technology thought his name would be appropriate since the king used communication as well as the sword to unite the Danish tribes. The Bluetooth company logo shows two runes that spell out the king's initials.