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Another unique metal detector find: Crystal animals found at Obbekær.

A unique crystal animal has been found by a metal detector driver in a field east of Ribe, but archaeologists still have difficulty determining which animal was put together with the matte crystal. Photo: Southwest Jutland Museums.

Ribe: It is still a mystery to the archaeologists at the Museums of Southwest Jutland, which animal is actually in question in the jewel that metal detector driver Henrik Brinch Christiansen found in a field near Obbekær east of Ribe.

- Is it a bear or is it a hedgehog? Is it a turtle or is it a armadillo? The last two are certainly not, because the Vikings knew neither armadillos nor turtles, explains Viking Age expert and museum inspector at Southwest Jutland Museums, Claus Feveile.

The pendant consists of a large, teardrop-shaped rock crystal, which is attached to a silver frame. The total length is just 2.9 cm, and after it was excavated, Henrik Brinch Christiansen handed over the fine crystal animal to the Museums of Southwest Jutland, which has made sure to have it cleaned, preserved and prepared for exhibition at the Ribe Viking Museum.

Claus Feveile explains that the jewelery was found back in January, but the bustle meant that it was only now that the unique find had been seriously investigated.

- Exactly this design we do not know from other pendants. It is unique in itself, because it is the only silver jewelry we know with matte crystal, but it fits nicely into the tradition of the pendants, but had in the Viking Age, he says.


The unique piece of jewelery can be seen at the Ribe Vikings Museum from 8 October to 6 February 2020.
The entrance fee is reduced to DKK 50 for adults on the weekend of 12-13. October. Children under 18 have free admission. The exhibition of the crystal animal forms the basis for the new history hunt for children and their adults, which will be launched during the autumn holidays from 12 October. and lasts for the winter holidays. It's called "The animals tell".

The crystal animal is only 2.9 cm long, so it is well spotted by metal detector driver Henrik Brinch Christiansen that he
found the Viking jewelery and had it handed over to Southwest Jutland Museums. Photo: Southwest Jutland Museums.

Power to the owner

Claus Feveile explains that the animal on the jewelry may well look like a hedgehog, but the problem is simply that hedgehogs are cute, and cute animals do not give power to its owner. That is why Claus Feveile leans most towards the somewhat more powerful bear when he has to make an offer for the animal on the silver-framed rock crystal.

- Many of the Viking Age jewelry shows different animals, and although we do not know for sure, the many dragons and snakes and wolves in the Viking Age jewelry art probably had to help their owner in some way by sharing his power with him or her, says Claus Feveile and elaborates on how the silver was rather dark after the many years in the soil when it was found, but that the conservation center has carefully removed all soil and given the silver its natural luster back.

The area east of Ribe, where the crystal animal was found, has previously yielded a number of other, fairly common metal finds from the Iron Age, Viking Age and the Middle Ages, probably the traces of a smaller settlement that has been adjacent to the meadows around Ribe Å.

Year and peace.

This article is written by Kåre Welinder
brought on 30-2019

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