King Bluetooth Lies at Center of an Archaeological Dispute

Archaeologist and researcher say he was buried in Poland, but they don't agree on where
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 1, 2022 11:15 AM CDT
King Bluetooth Lies at Center of an Archaeological Dispute
The 10th-century golden Curmsun Disc with the name of Danish King Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson ("Curmsun" in Latin) on it, from a tomb at a Roman Catholic church in Wiejkowo, Poland, photographed in Malmo, Sweden, in 2015.   (Sven Rosborn via AP)

More than 1,000 years after his death in what's now Poland, a European king whose nickname lives on through wireless technology is at the center of an archaeological dispute. Chronicles from the Middle Ages say King Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson of Denmark acquired his nickname courtesy of a tooth, probably dead, that looked bluish. One chronicle from the time also says the Viking king was buried in Roskilde, in Denmark, in the late 10th century. But a Swedish archaeologist and a Polish researcher recently claimed in separate publications that they've pinpointed his most probable burial site. It isn't in Denmark.

They both point to the village of Wiejkowo, in an area of northwestern Poland that had ties to the Vikings in Harald's times. Marek Kryda, author of the book Viking Poland, told the AP that a "pagan mound" that he claims he has located beneath Wiejkowo's 19th-century Roman Catholic church probably holds the king's remains. Kryda said geological satellite images available on a Polish government portal revealed a rotund shape that looked like a Viking burial mound.

But Swedish archaeologist Sven Rosborn says Kryda is wrong because Harald, who converted from paganism to Christianity and founded churches in the area, must have received an appropriate grave somewhere in the churchyard. Wiejkowo's Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands atop a small round knoll. Rosborn detailed his research in the 2021 book The Viking King's Golden Treasure. Historians at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen say they're familiar with the "suggestion" that Wiejkowo is Harald's burial place. There are no current plans for any excavations.

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Harald, who died in 985, probably in Jomsborg—which is believed to be the Polish town of Wolin now—was one of the last Viking kings to rule over what is now Denmark, northern Germany, and parts of Sweden and Norway. He spread Christianity in his kingdom. Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson named its Bluetooth wireless link technology after the king, reflecting how he united much of Scandinavia during his lifetime. The logo for the technology is designed from the Scandinavian runic letters for the king's initials, HB. (Read the full story for much more, including how a cast gold disc sparked Rosborn's interest.)

(More discoveries stories.)

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