On a warm evening in July earlier this year, minutes before the world discovered the result of the World Cup Final between France and Croatia, a young Swedish-American girl playing knee deep in Lake Vidostern, Sweden, made the type of discovery that usually marks the start of a perilous quest to save the kingdom and discover the true meaning of friendship.
Or sparks a lifelong interest in archeology and medieval weapons. But probably the quest.
Return Of The Vikings: An Upside To Global Warming?
Europe suffered record drought this year, with water levels all over the continent dropping drastically.
The lake outside Andy Vanecek’s summer retreat was no different. With boats at risk of running ashore in the shallow water, Andy and his family did the neighborly thing and set up a buoy as a precautionary measure.
Andy’s daughter, eight-year-old Saga, was given every child’s dream chore of wading into the muddy shallows, to retrieve the buoy in the evenings. It was a job fit for a miniature hero, and what happened next confirmed this!
Whilst wading through knee-deep water, she felt what she at first thought was a stick snag against her leg.
After a moment’s hesitation to reach down into the murky water, she decided to see if she could lift it.
As soon as she had in it her hands, she recognized the unmistakable shape of a sword.
In true Disney fashion, she raised it above her head and exclaimed; “Papa! Papa! I found a sword!”
At which point the sword began to glow and her sassy animal sidekick launched into an irresistibly catchy musical number.
Archeologist Ruins Quest By Insisting On Following Conservation Best Practice
In the non-Disney version of Saga’s saga, what happened next was actually just as fascinating.
Immediately recognizing the importance of the find and its fragility, Andy and Saga carefully moved it to the bank of the lake and documented it, wondering how best to approach this mysterious little slice of history they had stumbled upon.
They were soon pointed in the right direction, to local archeologist Annie Rosen, who told them that the should put the sword back in water immediate to prevent oxygen causing further damage to the delicate artifact.
She also estimated the last time this sword had seen daylight was over a thousand years ago.
At 85cm long and still secured in its wood and leather sheath, latest estimates suggest that Saga’s sword is over 1500 years old.
This means it predates the Viking era, and was probably last used back in the 5th or 6th century AD.
Sword Lake May Still Conceal Other Secrets
Saga and her father were initially sworn to secrecy. Finds of such historical value often lead to a stampede of ambitious treasure hunters, and chances of damaging the lake bed or preventing further finds were high.
However, because Saga was so good at keeping her secret, a later sweep of the area turned up a metal broach from the same time period.
The conservation process will take time, and Mikael Nordstrum of Jonkopings Lans Museum reckons it could be a year before the public are able to view it up close; “We are very keen to see the conservation staff do their work and see more details of the sword”.
What the sword was doing in the lake is still up for discussion. A grand burial perhaps? A lost warrior fallen through cracked ice in the midst of winter? Who knows?