Dental nurse turned archaeologist finds a piece of history from the 6th century

Not everybody likes to laze around on the beach and suntan or go tromping through the woods on a hike. Some people head to the beach or into the woods armed with a metal detector for a very specific purpose – to treasure hunt! Or, as they prefer to be thought of, as an amateur archaeologist. Walking around with their metal detectors waiting to hear that first beep, followed by the beeps in rapid succession, is what they live for. The thrill of the hunt, unearthing their find and presenting it to their fellow archaeologists, and if the find is big enough, that is what it is all about. A lot of the time it is simply old cans or random pieces of metal that are found, but sometimes rare artifacts can pop up which in turn share an exciting historical story. Such finds have shown up in recent years that have garnered a lot of attention. One was found in Denmark by Terese Frydensberg Refsgaard, and another was found in the US by Brad Martin in the state of Vermont. What they found told two very special stories.

Out For A Stroll

Terese was like any young person with a hobby they were passionate about, although using a metal detector to find artifacts isn’t really your typical hobby like playing soccer or watching Netflix. She would often head out on the weekend to wander up and down beaches, or on lesser used trails where Vikings had once been.

The goal was always to unearth something, but she had yet to find anything truly remarkable. However, this was about to change for her.

Day Job

While Terese spent her spare time wandering around with her metal detector, she also had a day job which she had to attend to. She spent her weekdays working as a dental assistant, cleaning teeth and working alongside the head dentist but when she wasn’t working her nine to five job, she was out hitting the beach trying to detect some lost treasures.

She had no idea that she was about to make one of the biggest finds of the decade and even with all of her experience, nothing could have prepared her for it.

Amateur Hour

Walking around by yourself can get a bit lonely, especially when you are out for hours just with the sound of your metal detector beeping. So, Terese was very lucky when she caught the attention of a local amateur group of archaeologists. She was invited to join them on their weekly forays around the countryside and they were able to talk about areas which had the potential for discoveries.

The camaraderie the group shared was great and provided a space in which they could all discuss their hobby. One such area they decided to check out would prove to have the motherload of all finds.

The Fateful Fall

After Terese had been involved with the archaeology group for a while, they decided as a team to head out to the Danish island called Hjarnø which was quite close to the mainland. It is a very small island, only about the size of two square kilometers. This was in November, and the island had been reported to hold lots of artifacts from around 5200 B.C. Back in 2008, excavators had found a Stone Age village.

So, the potential to find other artifacts, big and small, was there. The amateurs just needed to be methodical and walk around in a grid formation to see what their metal detectors could pick up.


After Terese and her fellow amateur archaeologists had been methodically searching the island for a few hours, she heard the telltale beep of a potential find with her metal detector. She didn’t want to get her hopes up quite yet in case it was something inconsequential like the pull tab on top of a pop can. There was also the possibility that she might have found nothing once she started digging, but on the off chance that there could be something worthwhile, this is something she just had to know.

So, she pulled out her trowel and got to work. After sifting through a few of the samples of dirt she had dug up she was ready to move on when she caught a glimpse of something gold.

Striking Gold

Terese picked up what looked like a gold shard, but in the hope that there was something more to find she continued to dig. And it is a good thing she did, she continued to find more and more gold pieces of varying intricacy and design. Some of the gold remnants had what looked like semi-precious stones built into them.

These were clearly not Stone Age jewelry, but instead from a much later date judging by the intricate patterns.

Who did the belong to?

She eventually unearthed a grand total of 23 pieces of jewelry, which her fellow amateur archaeologists were ecstatic over. However, the problem which they all noted was that this jewelry was not in line with the known history of the island. Therefore, it was time to call in the specialists.

Mads Ravn who worked for the Vejle Museum examined the jewelry and was able to date it to somewhere in the 6th century, and told them that it was of Roman design.

Why They Were Hidden

Around the time this jewelry was thought to have been made, a major natural disaster had occurred in South America. A large volcano had become active and began erupting, due to this the weather was affected on a global scale. As the 6th century was characterized by religion, offerings were made to appease the gods who had “blighted the land” so to speak.

The weather created by the volcano had caused poor farming conditions. Famine had struck.

On Display

The jewelry had been buried to appease the gods and hopefully bring forth a better harvest, as historians believed. Now, if you want to go and view this amazing find you can head to Denmark and visit the two museums showcasing them. Terese is still often found out hunting for more lost treasure now that she has had such amazing results.

Hopefully, she is able to unearth some more exciting snippets of times past for the world to see.

Green Metal Mountain Detecting

Another amateur archaeologist, Brad Martin has actually formed his own company to help find lost treasures or lost items like engagement rings. He primarily surveys in his home state of Vermont. On one of his more recent expeditions, he also struck the proverbial gold while out wandering around in some lesser trafficked areas.

Brad primarily sticks to areas that he knows have had some historical significance. He was also fortunate to have access to a swath of private land largely untouched by prior explorers.