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Eight-Year-Old Girl Finds Iron Age Sword in Swedish Lake

She’s no King Arthur, but locals are calling Saga Vanecek the “Queen of Sweden.” To that we say, long live Saga!

(Jönköpings Läns Museum)
smithsonian.com

Back in July, eight-year-old Saga Vanecek was playing in a lake near her family’s summer home in Sweden. She reached into the water and pulled out what she thought was a stick—but quickly realized that it was something far more special.

“Daddy, I found a sword!” she cried, according to Catherine Edwards of the Local Sweden.

Saga’s family subsequently alerted the Jönköpings Läns Museum to the discovery, and experts there have since revealed that the sword may be as much as 1,500 years old, dating back to the Iron Age.

"Indeed an amazing story," Mikael Nordström, head of the museum’s cultural heritage department, exclaimed in an email to Laurel Wamsley of NPR.

Measuring about 33 inches long, the sword is “exceptionally well preserved,” the museum said. It is in such good condition, in fact, that its scabbard of wood and leather has survived to the present day.

The waters at Lake Vidöstern, where Saga found the sword, were low this year, which may have been why she was able to reach the ancient relic. Subsequent searches of the waters turned up a piece of metal jewelry that has been dated between 300 and 400 A.D.

But just how and why these objects ended up in the lake remains unclear. Nordström tells Edwards that experts initially thought there might be graves situated nearby, but that does not appear to be the case. Perhaps, he theorizes, the site was “a place of sacrifice.”

It will take at least a year for conservators to examine the sword, after which point it will be put on display.

“It's cool that it will be in a museum and it might even say 'Saga's sword' and it might be there for thousands of years,” Saga’s father, Andy Vanecek, tells Edwards.

Saga and her family were initially asked to keep the discovery a secret, so as to prevent curious bystanders from flocking to the lake and disrupting searches of the area. But with the announcement of the find this week, she was able to reveal the story to her classmates. Her teacher even threw an ice cream party to celebrate.

In spite of her successful, albeit unintentional, foray into archaeology, Saga has other plans in mind for her future career. She tells Edwards that she is more interested in becoming “a doctor, vet, or an actress in Paris.”

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including NYmag.com, Flavorwire and Tina Brown Media's Women in the World.

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