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Romanian authorities recover ‘unique’ stolen Viking helmet

Romanian police specialising in heritage crimes on February 7 recovered a medieval helmet “of Viking origin” that disappeared a decade ago, and which they called “unique in Romania” and very rare in the rest of Europe in an announcement issued on Friday.

Romanian authorities recover ‘unique’ stolen Viking helmet
Credit: Poliția Română

A Romanian expert in historical illustration, Radu Oltean, said the helmet dated from the 11th century. It was first discovered in 2010 during refurbishment work on the river Siret, in northeast Romania, but it was never handed over to the state preservation services and the authorities lost track of it.

The investigation that led to the recovery of the precious item started in December 2020, when police officers got information about its whereabouts.

The helmet “can be dated to between the 11th and the 13 centuries and represents a type of helmet most often found in the Baltics and Kiev Rus,” the police said, offering no additional information on how the helmet disappeared, or where it was kept.

“Investigations to clarify all the circumstances continue, and the cultural good has been handed to the Moldova National Museum in Iasi so the procedures to list it as national cultural heritage can start,” the statement concluded.

The Vikings were a seafaring Norse people from southern Scandinavia who roamed widely, establishing settlements and states in modern-day Britain, Ireland, Iceland, the Baltics and northern France.

But some journeyed much further. Kiev Rus, the first Russian state, with its capital in today’s Kiev, was founded by Vikings in the mid-9th century. It lasted until the mid-13th century when it succumbed to a Mongol invasion. 

At its peak in the early to mid 11th-century, it stretched from the White Sea in the north to the Dniester river in today’s Moldova, which borders the northeastern part of Romania, where the helmet was first discovered in 2010.

Author: Marcel Gascón Barberá | Source: Balkan Insight [February 13, 2021]

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