The scientists have discovered a 1,000-year-old Viking toolbox in a mysterious, ring-shaped fortress in Denmark, containing a set of extraordinary iron tools that may have been used to make ships, houses and jewellery.
The fortress is thought to have been constructed under orders of the 10th-century Danish king Harald Bluetooth. Archaeologists excavated at least 14 iron tools from a gatehouse building of the fortress. Only traces remain of the wooden chest that once held the tools, researchers said.
The tools may have belonged to a craftsman who occupied a workroom in the gatehouse until it collapsed in the late 10th century, they said. They identified several sophisticated hand tools and other metal items. These include a set of “spoon drills” used to make holes in timber; a pair of tweezers or small pliers; a “clink nail” used to fasten wooden planks together; four chain links attached to an iron ring; and a drawplate to make metal wires that may have been used in jewellery.
This is the first time an entire set of tools has been discovered in a Viking workplace, said Nanna Holm, a curator at the Danish Castle Centre, who is leading the excavations of the ringed-shaped fort. “Not many tools are found in Scandinavia, but the others found before this have all been left for the gods, by being put down in a swamp,”.
The newfound tools are special because they were found where the craftsman would have been working, she said. “That’s why it’s so exciting for us to see what’s inside, because we can see what one man has used at this specific site,” Holm added. The cache of iron tools was first located by amateur archaeologists using a metal detector near the eastern gate of the buried fortress at Borgrin.