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26.05.2021

Gullgubber

Gullgubber are art objects, amulets or offerings found in Scandinavia and dating back to the Nordic Iron Age. They consist of thin pieces of hammered gold (sometimes silver), usually 1 to 2 cm2 (0.16 to 0.31 sq. in.). In size, usually stamped with a motif, and are the oldest examples of toreutics in Northern Europe.

The word gullgubbe means "little golden oldies" and is taken from a report published in 1791 by Niels Henrik Sjöborg, in which he said that the villagers of Ravlund, Scania, who found them in the dunes, called them guldgubbar. 

About 3,000 pcs. were found from about 30 locations in Norway, Sweden and the largest number in Denmark. At least 2,350 were found in the settlement of Sorte Muld on the Danish island of Bornholm, more than 100 in Lundeborg, near Gudme on the Danish island of Funen, and 122 in Uppakre, Scania, Sweden. To date, relatively few pcs have been found in Norway, although 19 were discovered during excavations at Vingrom Church in Oppland between 2003 and 2005, and the distribution of finds may be influenced by both contemporary circumstances and the political situation at the time they were laid down.

They belong to the Late Iron Age, from the end of the Age of Migration to the beginning of the Viking Age, especially what is called the Merovingian Age in Norway and the Wendel Age in Sweden, from about 550 to about 800, but may be difficult to date because they are often found in contexts that do not establish a date. It seems likely that they replaced the brakteates, which required much more metal, after it became difficult to obtain gold from the Byzantine Empire.

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