Irish Viking artefacts recovered by Norwegian police after theft

Two men arrested in Bergen as precious brooches and buckles recovered

 

Irish artefacts among a Viking collection stolen from a Norwegian museum several months ago have been located by Norwegian police.

Two men have been arrested in Bergen, Norway, as part of the investigation which has resulted in some two-thirds of stolen material being located so far.

However, some gold artefacts are still missing and other items found in a large bag have been damaged and will require conservation, according to the University Museum of Bergen.

The collection, regarded as one of the most significant from Viking graves, was housed in the University Museum and was reported missing in early August.

Among the Irish items in the collection – ironically, stolen by Vikings from this island up to 1,000 years ago - were brooches and buckles of gilt bronze, fashioned from decorative fittings, which have been exhibited several times in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

The Norwegian police have said the items were found in the Bergen area. The breakthrough followed information received from an individual who is reported to have walked into a Bergen police station last month.

Two arrests were made this week, and items recovered at the home of one of the two detained.

The alarm was raised on Monday, August 14th, when construction staff at the museum discovered windows had been smashed.

The 396 items taken had been stored temporarily, due to the construction work.

The museum’s head of the department of exhibitions Kari K Aarestad said photographs of all of the artefacts registered as stolen were posted on social media immediately to alert institutions abroad.

National Museum of Ireland director Raghnall Ó Floinn said the institution had been in contact with the Bergen museum to offer assistance.

The Irish artefacts were unearthed from one of the richest Viking graves discovered in south-western Norway in 1883, Mr Ó Floinn confirmed last month.

The “Gausel” grave, named after the farmer who discovered it, was the grave of a woman who was believed to be a queen.

She had been buried with a horse’s head at her feet, and up to 40 items, many from Dublin, including silver and bronze clasps, silver arm rings, a finger ring, pearls and knives.

The university museum has not yet confirmed if the material recovered includes all of the Irish artefacts in the collection. The university was unavailable for comment on Friday.

However, a statement on its website says that it was “working hard” to find out exactly what had been located and what was still missing, and said the recovery had prompted a “day of joy”.

Norwegian police have said they are hopeful the remaining items may be recovered.