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1400-Year-Old Gold Foil Figures Discovered in Pagan Temple in Norway

1,400 year old gold foil figures discovered in a pagan temple near Lake Mjøsa, Norway.
Gold foil figures have been discovered in the pagan temple near Lake Mjøsa, Norway.

In a recent development in Vingrom, located to the south of Lillehammer by Lake Mjøsa in Norway, archaeologists have unearthed a remarkable collection of tiny gold objects. These gold pieces no bigger than a fingernail and as thin as paper were discovered during road construction.

Unique appearance of gold pieces

What makes these finds truly intriguing is their unique appearance. These small golden treasures are often square in shape and feature intricate designs.

Most commonly, these designs portray a man and a woman dressed in different styles of clothing, adorned with various types of jewelry, and showcasing diverse hairstyles. This discovery has sparked considerable interest among archaeologists and historians alike.

Site of discovery of gold objects

These tiny gold objects were found within the remnants of an ancient pagan temple. Interestingly, over the past thirty years, excavations in this area have revealed around thirty similar gold pieces with stamped designs.

Leading the excavation efforts was archaeologist Kathrine Stene. The excavation project has been in progress throughout the summer and into the autumn season.

It is taking place as part of the upgrades being made to the E6 highway, which stretches between the Mjøsa Bridge and Lillehammer. Kathrine Stene expressed her excitement about the discovery, describing it as “incredibly exciting.”

The pagan temple measures approximately fifteen meters in length. In just the past few weeks, archaeologists have come across five gold foil figures within its confines.

Tracing back the gold objects

As per the findings of the researchers, these objects can be traced back to the Merovingian era, which spans from around AD 550 to the Viking Age.

The most recent discoveries were identified beneath the structure, specifically within the wall remains and in nearby postholes. This positioning indicates that they were likely purposefully placed there as offerings, possibly in the form of a sacrifice or a religious ritual, with the intention of safeguarding the construction of the building.

Discovery of the temples

The chance discovery of the temple in 1993 was quite remarkable. It all began when County Conservator Harald Jacobsen happened to notice something unusual in the soil as he was driving along the E6 highway.

He recognized that the soil had the distinctive characteristics archaeologists refer to as “cultural layers,” which typically contain evidence of human activity.

A brief investigation confirmed his suspicions, and the subsequent finding of two gold foil figures hinted at the extraordinary significance of this site.

In the 2000s, smaller excavations in the same area led to an even more remarkable discovery. Archaeologists uncovered a total of twenty-eight gold foil figures and what is now identified as a temple—a place used for pagan religious activities.

It is worth noting that finding gold foil figures in Norway is quite uncommon. The thirty-five gold foil figures discovered in the Vingrom temple constitute the largest collection of its kind ever found in this country.

Nevertheless, another temple, similar in nature, located at Uppåkra in Sweden, yielded an even more impressive discovery with the recovery of a hundred gold foil figures. Moreover, an astonishing trove of over 2,500 gold foil figures was unearthed in a field on the Danish island of Bornholm.

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