Unique jewellery from fifth century discovered near Rakovník

Archaeologists from the Rakovník Museum have announced a rare discovery from the Migration Period —­  a gold ring and clasp decorated with Czech garnets and almandines, which probably come  from India or Sri Lanka. According to experts, the roughly 1500-year-old find is one of the most unique of its kind in Europe.

The discovery was made last summer by amateur metal detectorists some 20 centimeters below ground, near the west Bohemian town of Rakovník. The news was only announced this week, following its detailed study by X-rays, computer tomography, microscopes and spectometers.

According to experts from the Sorbonne in Paris, who also took part in the research, it is an absolutely extraordinary find, which can be precisely dated on the basis of similar discoveries, such as the objects from the tomb of the Frankish king Childeric I in Belgium, who died in 481 AD.

Photo: Central Bohemia Region - Regional Authority

What makes the discovery so unique is the fact that it contains a complete ring, which is nearly as good as new.  According to Kateřina Blažková, an archaeologist from the  Rakovník Museum, the ring and the clasp, broken into three pieces, must have belonged to a member of the ruling class:

“There are only a few finds of similar significance discovered throughout Europe, so they must have belonged to someone really significant. It must have been a king, or an ambassador, or someone close to him.”

The reason why the objects had been buried under ground is not entirely clear. The most likely hypothesis, says Mrs Blažková, is that it was part of a loot:

“Loots are quite common on archaeological sites from the 5th and 6th century, from the Migration Period.

“Someone probably carried the loot across the Rakovník region,  divided it up here and then buried part of it. We don’t know why they never came back for it, but we can easily guess the reasons. It was either due to a disease or due to a change in the terrain. In any case, they weren’t able to retrieve them.”

Photo: Central Bohemia Region - Regional Authority

For the time being, archaeologists from the Rakovník Museum want to keep the location of the discovery secret, since further archaeological research is still underway there.

However, Kateřina Blažková, says it is now absolutely clear that the treasure was buried in the vicinity of a road that was important not only in the Middle Ages, but also in the last periods of prehistory.

This April, archaeologists also found a gold-plated horse halter from the end of the sixth century approximately two kilometres from the discovery of the buckle and ring.

If everything goes according to plan, the unique jewellery from the fifth century will go on display at the Museum of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in Rakovník in the summer of next year.

Photo: Central Bohemia Region - Regional Authority
Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Markéta Šulejová
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