If you name your child “Saga,” you’re giving her the burden of explaining its meaning for the rest of her life. Fortunately, little 8-year-old Saga Vanecek has a tale that most likely beats whatever reason her parents had for bestowing that moniker … she found a 1,500-year-old ancient Viking sword in a Swedish lake while looking for stones to skip. Who says kids can’t learn from just playing around?
"I was outside in the water, throwing sticks and stones and stuff to see how far they skip, and then I found some kind of stick. 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!'”
As The Local Sweden reports, her dad Andy Vanecek tried to get in on the story, but this saga is all Saga’s – with a little help from climate change. Earlier this year, the family was spending time at their summer home on Vidöstern lake in Tånnö, a parish in Southern Sweden. The lake was unusually low because of the recent drought, so Saga was able to venture farther out than normal. Saga’s saga almost didn’t happen because her dad was calling her in so he could watch a World Cup match. In fact, he initially thought what she brought back for him to see was either a stick or a toy.
Fortunately, Andy Vanecek showed Saga’s sword to a friend who convinced him to take it to the nearby Jönköpings Läns Museum (motto: Möre Umlaüts That Other Müseüms) where museum official Mikael Nordström identified it.
"It's about 85 centimentres long, and there is also preserved wood and metal around it. We are very keen to see the conservation staff do their work and see more of the details of the sword."
While initially estimating it to be at least 1,000 years old, the museum’s analysis now points to the possibility it''s from the 5th century CE, which precedes the so-called Viking Age (late 700s to 1066) and may even predate the Vikings’ ancient Norse ancestors. Further identification and dating is estimated to take at least a year due to the fragility of the sword and its surrounding fragments of wood and leather. Archaeologists are also digging in and around where Saga discovered it for more artifacts and found an ancient brooch from the same time period.
To protect the area, archaeologists asked Saga to go against type and not share her saga, which she agreed to – except to her best friend who pinky-swore to keep the secret until this week. As expected, the news has people excited about the discovery and about Saga, who some were already referring to as the “Next Queen of Sweden.” While Saga definitely likes the Vikings, they may be disappointed to find out which ones.
"The cool thing is that I'm a huge Minnesota Vikings fan, and this looks just like a Viking sword!"
That’s right… Saga’s saga starts in Minnesota where her family lived until last year. While she apparently likes Sweden, she’s still a bigger fan of American football than her dad’s World Cup football. And the big discovery hasn’t convinced her to change her career goals to archeology … she still wants to be a doctor or a dancer in Paris.
Not a Viking cheerleader?