60 Years Later, He Learns His Childhood Finds Under a Church Are Actually a Real Treasure

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.17 - 2024 10:29 AM CET

Photo: Møre og Romsdal County Municipality)
Photo: Møre og Romsdal County Municipality)
Better late than never. In 1964, a Norwegian, Jan Gunnar Fugelsnes, was playing with his brother, crawling under the floor of a church.

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No fewer than 14 silver coins were retrieved by the two boys. Jan Gunnar Fugelsnes had carefully kept them in a small yellow Kodak slide box, before forgetting about them until November 2023. It was about 60 years later that he went to declare his find to the officials of the Møre og Romsdal county municipality.

After a thorough analysis of the coins, archaeologists believe that they date back to the Middle Ages. Obviously, at his young age, Jan Gunnar Fugelsnes had no idea of the significance of his discovery.

"We were just kids on a treasure hunt under the church, we didn't realize how rare the coins were," explained the Norwegian, who adds that along with the coins, his brother and they had found an amber bead and nine needles.

Photo: Møre og Romsdal County Municipality)

Childhood Treasures, a Nation's Treasure

In addition to the historical value, this anecdote takes on a sentimental and emotional aspect that might remind one of a cult scene from the film Amélie, where a little boy emotionally rediscovers his childhood treasures... except that these treasures have real archaeological value.

According to the county's archaeologist, Carl-Fredrik Wahr-Hansen Vemmestad, some coins could date back to the 13th century, around 1280 during the reign of the Norwegian king Marcus VI.

Some might be a bit more recent, dating from the reign of Christian I, king of Norway from 1450 to 1481. The archaeologist explains that this find is extremely rare, as elsewhere in central Norway, "there are literally only a handful of these coins that have been preserved to this day."

Coins, Needles, a Pebble

And what about the other objects found by the two brothers, seemingly mundane? Not at all, according to the analysis! Indeed, the needles also date from the 13th century and could have been part of the clothing of a corpse. As for the amber bead, it could well have come from a prayer crown, intended for priests and deacons.

Respecting Norway's policy on the conservation of archaeological finds, which clearly states that all coins minted before 1605 are considered state property unless they belonged to an individual before 1905, Jan Gunnar Fugelsnes parted with his 14 silver coins to entrust them to the county municipality. There, they will be preserved and possibly displayed.

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