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Wiener Neustadt main square with one of the treasure findsWiener Neustadt main square with one of the treasure finds. Photo: dugspr, Flickr/APA

Significant mediaeval treasure found in Austria

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The Austrian Federal Monument Agency (BDA) reported a “fairy tale” find on Good Friday.  An unidentified Austrian man found about 200 mediaeval artefacts estimated to be around 650 years old while digging to expand a garden pond in 2007.  The discovery has been called one of the most “significant mediaeval treasure finds.”

Jewelled ring Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

Jewelled ring Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

Austria’s BDA, in charge of national antiquities, said the treasure trove, found in the vicinity of Wiener Neustadt, consists of more than 200 rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, gold-plated silver dishes and other pieces or fragments, many encrusted with pearls, fossilized coral and other ornaments. It says the objects are about 650 years old and are being evaluated for their provenance and worth.

According to to the BDA,  the man was digging to enlarge a small pond in his back garden when he found the buried treasure in 2007 consisting of 153 pieces of jewellery and 75 other precious objects and fragments.

Gilded brooch with coral beads. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

Gilded brooch with coral beads. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

In 2010, the man had decided to move house, he came across the bags and boxes containing the treasures that he had initially “given no importance to and banished to the basement”. He continued in an article in Prolil magazine in Austria that “[the artefacts] were ..  surrounded by lumps of earth” and  “their forms were barely visible.” The man then cleaned some of them with household products, took a photograph of the objects and then asked for help with their identification on internet forums.  Several offers followed, but one, from an amateur archaeologist, encouraged the finder to report his discovery to the BDA as the responsible authority – which he immediately did.

He wishes to make this beautiful and historical treasure available to the public, placing value on the public good rather than his own financial gain

The monetary value will only be assessed after all the research on provenance and materials has been done, but the finder, who wishes to remain anonymous, has no intention of selling. He wishes to make this beautiful and historical  treasure available to the public, placing value on the public good rather than his own financial gain.

Gilded buckle with figure. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

Gilded buckle with figure. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APAGilded buckle with figure. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

Many of the jewels will be presented to the public on May 2 in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace complex, the official residence of the President of Austria, the seat of government, and a museum showcasing imperial Hapsburg history.

Wiener Neustadt, meaning  New Vienna  gained important privileges given to the city in order to enable it to prosper. It remained a part of Styria, which after the 1278 Battle on the Marchfeld fell to the House of Habsburg and in 1379 became a constituent duchy of Inner Austria.

Inlaid garment clasp. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

Inlaid garment clasp. Image: Bundesdenkmalamt/Bettina Sidonie via APA

In the 15th century Wiener Neustadt experienced a population boom, when Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg took up a residence here and established the Diocese of Wiener Neustadt in 1469.  This may go some way to explain the wealth of this find, given the importance of the city at this time.

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