Girl, 8, finds 1500-year-old iron age sword in Swedish lake

The 1500-year-old sword was photographed the day it was pulled from the lake.
The 1500-year-old sword was photographed the day it was pulled from the lake. Photo: Andy Vanecek/Jönköpings Läns Museum

When Saga Vanecek's parents named her eight years ago, little did they know their daughter would be centre stage in a sensational historical story of her own.

In what has become one of the most significant historical finds in Sweden in recent years, Saga literally stumbled across the sword while skimming pebbles along the water's surface at Vidöstern lake, 400 kilometres South of Stockholm in Sweden. She was standing in water just half a metre high.

According to The Local, the girl was able to tread on the 85-centimetre sword - which was still wrapped in its leather sheath - because the lake's levels are low due to drought. Her father was installing a buoy to warn watercraft of a concrete slab on the bottom of the lake which had become more of a hazard with the low levels of water.

After feeling what she thought was a stick at her feet, Saga retrieved the sword from the silt. 

She recounted, "I picked it up and was going to drop it back in the water, but it had a handle, and I saw that it was a little bit pointy at the end and all rusty. I held it up in the air and I said 'Daddy, I found a sword!' When he saw that it bent and was rusty, he came running up and took it," she said.

Her dad Andy thought it would be a modern version, though prevented Saga from disposing of it so he could seek advice from his neighbour, who is a history and archaeology buff. He was advised that the sword could be authentic, so he contacted authorities.

The relic is now at Jönköpings Läns Museum where it has been dated back as far as 1500 years and the conservation process has now begun. It will be more than a year until it can be viewed by the public.

The museum notes on its website that the sword is 'exceptionally well-preserved,' with its discovery kept a secret for a few months to prevent crowds hindering the operation, while the lake was searched for more historical objects.

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Mikael Nordström from the museum said Saga was sworn to secrecy for a while.

"We asked Saga [not to tell anyone about the sword] because we were afraid that if this find would go public too soon, there would be a lot of people there, perhaps destroying our possibility to find things later."

She said she only told her best friend, and finally was able to tell her teacher and class recently, who threw her a party to celebrate, while watching her interviews on tv.

Dad Andy found it a tough task to keep quiet.

"I think maybe I found it harder to keep secret than she did," her father added. "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. We didn't put it on Facebook or anything until yesterday, and now it's really blowing up!"

The family moved to Sweden in 2017 from Minneapolis, to be close to Saga's mum's family. Andy quipped, "The cool thing is that I'm a huge Minnesota Vikings fan, and this looks just like a Viking sword!"

Saga is now being hailed 'Queen of Sweden' by friends and the media alike.

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The sword with Andy's Minnesota Vikings memorabilia. Photo: Andy Vanecek