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The hunt for the Denmarks past

New exhibition: Ordinary citizens find the largest treasures

Every year ordinary Danes find thousands of objects. Equipped with metal detectors they find traces of history in the ground. Some finds are extraordinary and they are declared Treasure Trove. It is unique for Denmark that ordinary citizens can go on the hunt for history. It is forbidden in many countries.
Since 1241 it has been law that treasure trove must be handed over to the king. Today all treasure trove must be handed in to the National Museum via the local museums, as the treasure trove belongs to us all. The finders receive a reward – a treasure trove compensation.
In the exhibition “The hunt for the Denmarks past” you will meet some of the people, who have dug up the past, you follow their hunt and you get to see, what they have found in the ground.
“It is ordinary people who have handed in some of the most significant objects, we have at the National Museum. In this way ordinary people over the centuries have created this museum together with the archaeologists, historians and other museum employees says director Rane Willerslev.

Gold hoard from the Germanic Iron Age found in Vindelev

In the exhibition the guest meets a handful of amateur archaeologists and metal detectorists, who spend a large part of their free time on tracing history with their metal detectors. One of them is Ole Ginnerup Schytz. Two years ago, he found a hoard from the Iron Age in Jutland.

“It is one the first times I´m in the field. Suddenly after half an hour there is a very clear signal from the metal detector. I dig and out of the ground rises a yellow thing caked in mud. In a clump of earth in my hand there is a Roman emperor who is looking straight into my face and then I continue metal detecting. After half an hour I have got several pieces of gold” tells Ole Ginnerup Schutz, who together with Jørgen Antonsen found close to a kilo of gold in a field in Vindelev.

They have written themselves into history together with a row of ordinary citizens, who have been looking for traces of history or have found it by accident. The lacemaker Kirsten Svendsdatter almost tripped over one of the Golden Horns in 1639, and the farmer Frederik Willumsen found the Sun Chariot in his field in 1902. Both the Golden Horns and the Sun Chariot are among the most important treasures from the Danish prehistory.

It is important that the hunt for Denmarks history continues, because if the objects are not found before it is too late, they will be destroyed by farming. Curator Line Bjerg examines the thousands of objects, that are sent to the museum and land on her desk.

“The number of objects for Treasure Trove processing have been rising over a number of years. A lot of objects are saved currently. Actually, it is hard to keep up with all of the new finds. The knowledge we get based on the new finds challenges the perception of how our country was born and they add a lot of facets to the sparkling diamond, that is our history” says Line Bjerg.

Treasure Trove in short

The overall amount of Treasure Trove compensation payed out in 2022: 6.191.474,98 Dkr.
Number of objects received for Treasure Trove processing 2022: 17.863.
Average processing time by the end of 2022: 2,25 years
In 2013 5.556 objects were sent for Treasure Trove processing.