At the height of a sweltering summer, Saga Vanecek went paddling in a southern Swedish lake. And in the shallow waters, she came across something astonishing. She thought it was a stick, she told the news website The Local, and she was going to skim it over the water. But when she fished it out, it was a sword — about 33 inches long, black-brown with age and rust.
According to a Facebook post by her father, Andy Vanecek, she “lifted it high above her head, and shouted, as if she was Pippi Longstocking,” a Swedish storybook heroine, “’DADDY! I FOUND A SWORD!’”
With her family, Saga, 8, who is Swedish-American, took the sword to the local Jonkoping county museum, which confirmed that it dated to the fifth or sixth century, before the time of the Vikings. It was exceptionally well-preserved and included a cover made from leather and wood, the museum said in a statement posted this week.
The find was made July 15, according to Andy Vanecek’s Facebook post, but the museum asked Saga and her family to keep the discovery secret, so archaeologists could search the Vidostern lake where she uncovered the sword before treasure-hunters made off with any other historical artifacts that might be hidden there. Divers and metal detectors were used in the search.
“After the sword was found we have made two surveys, we found a fibula from the period 300-400 A.D.,” Anders Kraft, archaeologist with the County Administrative Board in Jonkoping said in an email. “It’s still unclear if the sword is from the same period, we need more scientific analyzes to find out.”
Her family is relieved that they no longer have to hide the news.
“I think maybe I found it harder to keep secret than she did,” Vanecek said. “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.”
Visitors in search of the sword will have to wait for about a year before seeing it on display, while specialists complete conservation work on the object, the museum told The Local.