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 Nevecek 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 broadcasterSveriges 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.
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.