UppÃ¥kra near Lund is Scandinavia’s largest 1st millennium settlement site and may (for some definitions of “town”) have been the first town north of Germany. Its finds are absolute top-quality and occur in vast numbers. For many object types, there are now more specimens from UppÃ¥kra only than we used to have from all of Sweden. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some 7th/8th century brooch types from the site, and I always read news about the ongoing investigations at UppÃ¥kra with great interest.
Now they’ve found something unique again. Rolf PetrÃ© calls it a mount, possibly for a small exclusive box. The style is in my opinion definitely 8th century (not late-10th as PetrÃ© suggests). The piece is unlikely to depict a Judaeo-Christian angel as Christianisation hadn’t come very far in Scandinavia at the time. But as the UppÃ¥kra team notes, Norse mythology offers two immediate interpretations: either a god wearing Freya’s magic falcon cloak, or Wayland the Smith wearing the feathered cloak he made to escape from his captivity with King NiÃ°had. The second option is attractive, I’d like to add, as we actually have a small exclusive 8th century box bearing Wayland’s image: the Franks Casket.
Congratulations (and huge envy) to the colleagues who get to dig at UppÃ¥kra for a living! Note that thanks to them, this find has an exact, undisturbed stratigraphical context.