The Hiddensee treasure: The largest discovery of Viking jewellery in Germany

David Goran
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Discovered in 1873,  on the tiny German island of Hiddensee in the Baltic Sea, the Hiddensee treasure is one of the most stunning archaeological finds and considered the largest discovery of Viking jewelry in Germany.

It is supposed to be manufactured in the second half of the 10th century, the late Viking Age, and it is connected with the nobility of southern Scandinavia. It is believed to have belonged to the family of the Danish King Harald Gormsson, better known as Harald Bluetooth.

The treasure was washed out on the beach of Neuendorf after a significant flooding in 1872 and 1873 and was discovered by chance by a local fishermen/Closeup of some pendants  Photo Credit

The jewelry dates from the late Viking Age, c. 10th century and it is one of the most beautiful certifications of Scandinavian goldsmith art  Photo Credit

Viking goldsmiths were pretty skilled at separating the various metals from an alloy   Photo Credit

The treasure consists of a brooch (fibula), a neck ring and 14 pendants, all made of pure gold weighing a total of 1,3 pounds. The largest pendants are made with braided bands; the others show bead knot work and granulations ornaments created by mixing little gold splinters with charcoal in a crucible. No other Hiddensee-type jewelry has been found before.

All pendants have a shape of a cross and consist of a hollow tube in the shape of a bird’s head, probably an eagle or an owl. The elongated and twisting shape of these objects is found on numerous decorations from the Viking era.

Presumably, it was made in the workshops of Harold Bluetooth Photo Credit


It consists of 16 pieces, all made of pure gold and it is the largest gold treasure of the Viking age in Germany Photo Credit


Viking exhibition at the National Museum of Denmark  Photo Credit


The combination of the pagan bird motifs and the Christian symbols reflects the increasing influence of Christianity in the 10th/11th century, which makes those pendants interesting in their cultural context.

Read another story from us: Viking shieldmaidens – some say the warrior women did not exist

The original sixteen items are on display at Stralsund Museum of Cultural History, while a replica of the treasure can be seen today in the Hiddensee Local History Museum.