Sweden's 'true queen', 8, pulls ancient sword from lake

Saga Vanecek discovers 1,500-year-old sword while skimming stones

An eight-year-old girl has pulled a 1,500-year-old sword from a lake in southern Sweden.

“I felt something with my hand and at first I thought it was a stick,” Saga Vanecek told the local Värnamo Nyheter newspaper. “Then it had a handle that looked like it was a sword, and then I lifted it up and shouted: ‘Daddy, I found a sword!’”

The find, made in July but announced only this week for fear it would trigger a summer stampede to the site at Tånnö on the shore of Lake Vidöstern, felt “pretty cool and a bit exciting”, she told the Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Radio.

Despite intense speculation on social media, there was no immediate confirmation that Saga would be crowned “Queen of Sweden”, in an echo of the Arthurian legends of the sword in the stone and the lady of the lake.

Försöker hon utmana vår utvalda drottning Saga?! ⚔️https://t.co/MRyJm7xugg

— Vigmund (@Vigmund2) October 5, 2018

Her father, Andrew, said in a Facebook post that the sword, estimated by experts from the nearby Jönköping county museum to date to the 5th or 6th century AD, before the Viking era, was still in the remains of its wood and leather scabbard.

He told VN he had been waiting impatiently for his daughter to come in from the water because the football World Cup final was about to start, but she was busy skimming stones. Then she stooped and held up the ancient weapon.

Neighbours confirmed to the Swedish-American family, who moved to Sweden from Minnesota last year, that the rusted artefact did indeed look old, and Nevecek called an archaeologist the next day.

Annie Rosén, from the museum, said: “I was on holiday, but when I saw the pictures I went straight away. You cannot imagine such a sword – so well preserved.”

Another expert at the museum, Mikael Nordström, told the Local.se news site that the 85cm sword was being worked on by conservationists and would not be on view to the public for at least a year.

“How it came to be there, we don’t know,” Nordström said, adding that archaeologists no longer believed the site was the grave of a wealthy nobleman, as first thought.

They were exploring the possibility it could have been a place of sacrifice, he said. Subsequent searches by museum staff and local council workers uncovered a brooch from roughly the same period but there were no other significant finds.


Jon Henley

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Lavish ancient Roman winery found at ruins of Villa of the Quintilii near Rome
Excavation shows facility included luxurious dining rooms with views of fountains that gushed with wine

Charlotte Higgins in Rome

17, Apr, 2023 @4:00 AM

Article image
Create UN force to protect ancient heritage from Isis, says Italy
World’s archaeological heritage needs protection by UN ‘blue helmets of culture’ force akin to peacekeepers, says culture minister Dario Franceschini

Rosie Scammell

19, Mar, 2015 @6:03 PM

Article image
Acropolis now: Greeks outraged at concreting of ancient site
Installation of new pathway and lift has been criticised by archaeologists and called ‘a scandal’

Helena Smith in Athens

10, Jun, 2021 @4:00 AM

Article image
US woman returns ancient Roman marble with letter of apology
Museum receives package from woman seeking forgiveness over graffitied artefact

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

25, Nov, 2020 @1:50 PM

Article image
Italy's new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting
Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italy’s inheritance

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

28, May, 2019 @11:56 AM

Article image
‘It’s as if we found oil’: Tuscan town savours discovery of spa trove
San Casciano dei Bagni’s fortunes expected to change after opulent Etruscan-Roman sanctuary found

Angela Giuffrida in San Casciano dei Bagni

11, Nov, 2022 @2:56 PM

Article image
Huge Atlas statue to guard Sicily's Temple of Zeus once more
Eight-metre statue built in 5th century BC had been buried among ancient ruins

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

14, Jul, 2020 @5:46 PM

Article image
‘It was terrifying’: ancient book’s journey from Irish bog to museum treasure
A new book tells the story of the painstaking process to preserve the 1,200-year-old Faddan More Psalter

Lisa O'Carroll in Dublin

21, Nov, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
The real-life Indiana Jones on the hunt for lost ancient Mayan cities in Mexico
Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Šprajc is behind discovery of three significant ruins in the remote jungles of the Yucatán peninsula

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City

28, Oct, 2014 @3:40 PM

Article image
Ancient Roman road and dock discovered in Venice lagoon
Find could prove there were human settlements in area centuries before city was founded

Angela Giuffrida

23, Jul, 2021 @10:06 AM