Gallery: Saaremaa gold bracelet on display for just five days

A gold bracelet dating from the 3rd century A.D. found in Saaremaa in September has gone on display at Kuressaare Castle, though only for five days.

The bracelet was found at a 1,700-year-old sacrificial site in early September, by an amateur metal detectorist who was involved in an organized archaeological dig. The haul also included luxurious local crossbow brooches, some made of silver, some gold-plated silver, as well as Scandinavian-looking belt plaques with silver plates, as reported by ERR news at the time.

The Saaremaa bracelet is one of the largest of its kind to be found anywhere – over 60 similar snake-design gold artifacts have been found in the Nordic countries – and sheds light on a period of the Estonian island's history as well as prompting questions as to whom it may have belonged to.

"This collar itself is so rare in the entire Nordic space, that it cannot be described as an everyday item," Archaeologist Marika Mägi, who led the search team which found the bracelet, told current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera.

"There is definitely a story behind it," she went on.

Jegor Klimov, the metal detectorist and archaeologist who made the find, went to Kuressaare Wednesday with his family to inspect the treasure.

Klimov recounted the moment he found the bracelet, noting that the team was getting ready to wrap up the day's digging.

"So, we've got to know this place, it's in the memory, let's start putting things together and let's go [we were saying]. And then it appeared. And the exclamations that followed was pretty awesome, I can't describe it," Klimov told Aktuaalne kaamera.

"Up until now, I had heard [about the bracelet] and seen the pictures, but I had never seen it with my own eyes," Kllimov's wife Elo said.

However, the pair only have a few days to continue looking at the find.

"Initially, we have five days here for everyone to see it at the exhibition. Probably after that, it will go into a safe. But if we have a new permanent exhibition in years to come, I hope it will be on display there. But I tend to think that won't be the original, just a copy," said Priit Kivi, chief curator of Saaremaa Museum.

Marika Mägi added that the area still merits further excavation. However, this is up to the Heritage Board (Muinsuskaitseamet), whose representatives did not come to Kuressaare on Wednesday. 

It is also for the board to decide on royalties for finds.

"Maybe all of the legislation relating to royalties could be rethought. It could be something to think on. But as things stand, there is no right to anything," added Mägi.

Jegor Klimov had sought a fee from the state, but this was rejected on the grounds that the object was found in the course of a professional archaeologist's fieldwork, in which case the law does not provide for payment of a fee.

Klimov did however receive a gift from the U.S. company that made the metal detector used in the historic find.

The original Aktuaalne kaamera segment (in Estonian) is here, and see the gallery above for more pictures of the bracelet.

Other recent archaeological finds on Saaremaa include viking-era silver coins, in addition to a haul of viking swords in northern Estonia, and a viking brooch found in Ida-Viru County.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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