The gold from Vittene

The Vittene treasure is Sweden's third largest gold treasure by weight. It consists of four and a half gold rings with a total weight of 1.9 kilograms. It was found at Vittene, Norra Björke parish in the municipality of Trollhättan, south of Hunneberg.

A neck ring of gold was found by private people in the late summer of 1990. When the discovery became known to archaeologists, the rest of the treasure was found in autumn 1995. When the area was being searched, an Iron Age settlement was discovered which was also researched by archaeologists under the name of the Vittene project 1997-99, as well as an adjacent grave field between 1997-2001. The area is now accessible on a 3.5 kilometre-long cultural trail, which was made in 2009.

Curtain rod in the wardrobe

In the late summer of 1990, Asta and Tapio Lund came across a metal object when they were working in their garden in Vittene, outside Trollhättan. They thought it looked like a bent curtain rod, so it was hung in a wardrobe where it was forgotten. Five years later, after talking with his colleagues about some curious finds in the area, Tapio gave some more thought to their earlier discovery. Following more discussions with his colleagues and confirmation by a local goldsmith that the object was made of gold, he decided to call the archaeologists at Lödöse Museum. It was a sensation!

It turned out that the object was a particular type of neck ring called a torc. This type of ring has large, smooth knobs on the ends with a locking device, which hang on the front by the throat. Rings of this type generally date back to the centuries around the birth of Christ. A similar neck ring, the Havor ring, had been found in Sweden but it was stolen in the 1980s, so the Vittene ring is now unique in Sweden. In addition to the Havor ring, one other torc ring has been discovered in Jutland, and two in the Black Sea area.

More finds of gold

Excavations were started in October 1995 in the area of the find. Settlement remains were discovered in the form of cultural layers, post holes and other remnants in an area approximately 100 x 100 metres. A gold arm ring and an unfinished tin object were found during an examination of the area using metal detectors in November 1995. The arm ring is a snake head ring, of which only four have been found previously: two in Denmark and one in Slovakia. Their probable date of manufacture is around A.D. 100.

Further excavations uncovered a third neck ring similar to ring number two, but with a triangular front plate and decorations consisting of punched circles surrounded by engraved lines. The ring was designed to be linked together using another part, and is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia. It probably dates from the end of the 2nd century.

The treasure is now in the Gold Room in the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.

Updated: 2017-02-16 09:23