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.

Discovery

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.

Ruins

Like Terese, Brad decided to explore an area of this private land that contained the remnants of a dilapidated structure. This structure was found in the mountains in Vermont and featured a giant hole with some miscellaneous stone foundations.

He had a gut feeling that this would be the location of his own cache of treasure, all he needed to do was wait for the beep of his metal detector so he could begin digging.

Buttons Galore

As Brad began surveying the land with his metal detector he quickly picked up on something. Upon closer inspection, he realized that he had found a metal button, specifically called a tombac button. This button allowed Brad to date the area, and he wondered what other possible artifacts he might unearth, as the button came from the 18th century.

Now, all he had to do was do a more thorough sweep of the area to see what else he could turn up.

Pocket Change

As Brad continued to survey the site, he started to find more and more metal objects, but instead of buttons, he found coins. His second find was a coin made of copper which could have either traveled over from Britain or been minted as a coin of the New World.

His next find was a metal piece that had once belonged to a musket, followed by a Connecticut copper coin worth a bit of money. But the best was yet to come.

Surprise

Brad had already made a remarkable amount of discoveries and as he prepared to pack up for the day, his detector went off one more time. Not one to give up on a find, Brad began to dig once more and his final find of the day was, in fact, the most impressive of all – a giant coin made of silver with the worn portrait of a man on it.

This time it wasn’t British but of Spanish origin. A coin called an Eight Reales from the 18th century that was considered a collector’s item.

Pirate’s Treasure

This type of coin was actually once considered pirate’s treasure as it was often mentioned in old tales. But Brad quickly realized there might be something wrong with his incredible find. The coin was a little bit too perfect which some of its details gave away, and in fact, was most likely a fake.

The British had been known to circulate fake ‘pieces of 8’ in order to bankrupt the Spanish government whom they were at war with at the time.

Still Valuable

Even though it was a bit disappointing to know that his find might have been fake, he knew that it would still fetch a fair price at auction. The fact that it is a piece of antiquity still holds great import to true collectors.

People like to know the history of the objects they buy and to share the story behind them which is something Brad was able to provide with this coin and his other findings.

Never Stop Looking

Brad may not have found the original ‘piece of eight’ that he had originally thought but he did find pieces of great historical import that tell a tale of times past. The fact that he found something like this, has only made him search harder for more pieces of antiquity and continue to tell the tale of some of the first Americans.

He and Terese both continue to wander around Vermont looking for their next treasure trove.