I write this as I am once again home visiting the Danish coast. Many years have passed since I last set foot on this Island yet little has changed. Old memories are regularly remade by new moments and the dirt between my toes feels just as rich as I remember it from my childhood. The noticeable change is the change in my perception. What once was brown dirt with grass is now a window to my ancestral past. My metal detecting adventures have educated me of past, present, and future symbiosis. Now I see the dirt is rich in moments lost.
During this trip I was fortunate enough to be invited to metal detect an old danish farm field with a friend named Lasse. The field was soaked. The dirt was fine, brown, and sticky. Skinny green leaves of a newly planted winter crops sprouted. Lasse told me this field had previously offered up Roman silver, Iron Age gold, and Middle Age copper coins. I am humbled to have stood on this historic soil, detected its plowed dirt, and discovered the lost histories of my ancestors.
I felt my nearly empty pockets as the sun began to set and thought, there must be something here to find. I scanned across the dusky dirt trying to imagine where a lost treasure may lie. I moved in an arbitrary direction and ping! A clear solid signal! I dug it. It was a thin weathered copper disk. I knew immediately this was a coin from the Middle Ages.
Great! These copper coins are called Borgerkrigsmønter. They are Danish coins from 1241-1377. The direct translation of Borgerkrigsmønt is civilwarcoin. As implied these coins come from a fascinating and brutal time in Danish history full of great unrest and instability.
It should be noted, this treasure hunt was not for personal profit but rather to contribute to a country’s understanding of its past. The Danish metal detecting laws are brilliantly designed to preserve history. When you find anything of gold, silver, or predating 1536 you must turn it in to the local museum for evaluation. Such an item is called a danefae. If it is deemed of historical interest the finder will be rewarded a payment. Laws like these are important to further archeological research while allowing us, as detectorists, to positively contribute to the local preservation of national history.
Thank you a thousand times to the generous and kind farmer who’s field I walked. He made it possible to discover history and to find the Borgerkrigsmønt last held by a Dane nearly a thousand years ago. This find will contribute to a growing local archeological understanding of my heritage and for that reason this Borgerkrigsmønt is my favorite find from this trip.