Västra Vång

In the landscape of Blekinge, in southern Sweden, lie the traces of a power that had a long occupation time, from before the time of Christ’s birth to the middle ages. According to Bjorn Nilsson, Lunds University, iron production was the economic motor that drove Västra Vång, as compared to grain or cattle at Uppåkrar, further southwest.

The site includes a small tree-covered hill and a marshy area, typically associated with religious cults of prechristian times, all a small scale which could, as excavations continue, provide an assembly of cult buildings. In 1860 a Viking age treasure was found, dated by coins to around 1120. Jewels and other remains point to a wide range of contacts with the outside world, not just the Baltic, but even far away.

One of the most interesting aspects of recent excavations is the uncovering of Sixty seven “guldgubbar”. Guldgubbar are small images made of tin, and covered with gold foil, about the size of a postage stamp. The image can be inscribed, cut out or stamped. The metallic value of these was very small, so they must have played a symbolic role, either human contacts with the gods or amongst each other. At Västra Vång they have been found in relation to other items which have religious significance, a Celtic bronze head and a Roman bust, and the remains of pots and kettles that have been used in religious ceremonies. These finds were made in the floor of a building 10m by 5 m, confirmed by georadar, sited on a mound which would have been visible from a long distance.

Several of the gold leaf images at Västra Vång are identical with those found at Sorte Muld on Bornholm and at Eketorp fort on Öland (coming later!) demonstrating the close connections between southern Sweden and the islands in the Baltic. In some cases, the same stamp has been used to create images found at these three sites.

Source: Guldgubbarnas rike
Acknowledgements: Tobias Svanelid, Mikael Henriksson, Björn Nilsson.

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