Ubina Hoard

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Ubina Hoard
Created12th Century AD
Present locationInstitute of History, University of Tallinn, Estonia

The Ubina Hoard is a wealth deposit of silver coins and jewelry found in the village of Salu, Harju County in Estonia in 2005. The oldest items in the hoard probably date from the Viking Age but the hoard seems to have been deposited during the beginning of the 12th century. The archaeological site was subjected to looting the day after its discovery, but coins and jewelry fragments later surfaced in Germany and led to successful legal prosecution of the looter and the return of the looted items to the authorities.

Hoard Collection of valuable objects or artifacts

A hoard or "wealth deposit" is an archaeological term for a collection of valuable objects or artifacts, sometimes purposely buried in the ground, in which case it is sometimes also known as a cache. This would usually be with the intention of later recovery by the hoarder; hoarders sometimes died or were unable to return for other reasons before retrieving the hoard, and these surviving hoards might then be uncovered much later by metal detector hobbyists, members of the public, and archaeologists.

Salu, Harju County village in Harju County, Estonia

Salu is a village in Rae Parish, Harju County, in northern Estonia. It has a population of 76.

Viking Age Period of European history from the 8th to the 11th century dealing with the Scandinavian expansion

The Viking Age is a period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, following the Germanic Iron Age. It is the period of history when Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe by its seas and rivers for trade, raids, colonization, and conquest. In this period, the Norsemen settled in Norse Greenland, Newfoundland, and present-day Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Normandy, Estonia, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man, the Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and Italy.


The hoard was discovered in Salu village by an amateur archaeologist who on 26 April 2005 informed Estonian authorities of the finding. Experts from the National Heritage Board of Estonia and the University of Tallinn examined the site and decided to initiate a rescue excavation of the area. The excavation would eventually take two weeks. However, already after the first day of excavating on the site and despite efforts to keep the discovery of the site secret, the site was looted. An unknown perpetrator had dug deep holes in the marked excavation plots and left footprints on the site. A car was seen circling the area and its license plate number was recorded by the archaeologists. [1] [2] [3]

Following this incident, it was decided that the archaeological excavation should be protected by guards from the Estonian Defence League, a volunteer force belonging to the Estonia Defence Forces, together with some of the archaeologists. [1] A watch was kept at the site 24 hours a day. [1]

Estonian Defence League paramilitary branch of Estonias military

The Estonian Defence League is the name of the unified paramilitary armed forces of the Republic of Estonia. The Defence League is a paramilitary defence organization whose aim is to guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state, the integrity of its land area and its constitutional order.

Later in the same year, 108 coins appeared for sale at an auction house in Dortmund, Germany. German police confiscated 42 of the coins and traced the other items to a German art dealer. He reported that he had received the coins from an Estonian national and resident of Pärnu, who was later arrested by Estonian police. Following a trial and turned-down appeal, the Estonian man was sentenced to three years of imprisonment by the Supreme Court of Estonia in 2010 for "destroying a cultural monument in a manner which causes significant damage and embezzlement by a group or a criminal organization". The coins from the hoard that were confiscated by German police were returned to Estonian authorities and deposited with the rest of the hoard at the Institute of History at the University of Tallinn in the Estonian capital Tallinn. The case of Ubina Hoard is an unusual case of where illegal looters in Estonia have been brought to justice. In both Estonia and neighbouring Latvia, illegal plundering of archaeological sites – locally known as "black archaeology" – is a recognised problem. [1] [2] [3]

Dortmund Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Dortmund is, with a population of 586,600 (2017), the third-largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne and Düsseldorf, and Germany's eighth-largest city. It is the largest city of the Ruhr, Germany's largest urban area with some 5.1 million (2011) inhabitants, as well as the largest city of Westphalia. On the Emscher and Ruhr rivers, it lies in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region and is considered the administrative, commercial, and cultural centre of the eastern Ruhr.

Pärnu City in Pärnu County, Estonia

Pärnu is the fourth largest city in Estonia. Located in southwestern Estonia on the coast of Pärnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Livonia in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer holiday resort with many hotels, restaurants, and large beaches. The Pärnu River flows through the city and drains into the Gulf of Riga. The city was served by Pärnu Airport.

The Supreme Court of Estonia is the court of last resort in Estonia. It is both a court of cassation and a constitutional court. The courthouse is in Tartu.


The archaeological excavation at Ubina uncovered remains of structures, pottery, jewelry and coins. The hoard includes penannular brooches, a possibly Byzantine earring, silver plates and sheet silver fragments. The hoard contains almost 300 coins (sources give the exact number as either 283 [1] [2] or 277 [3] ) from mints in Germany, England, Arabia, Denmark, Sweden (imitations of Anglo-Saxon coins), Hungary and the Byzantine Empire. The oldest items in the hoard are believed to date from the Viking Age and testify to the trading networks of the age; the deposit was probably buried at the beginning of the 12th century. [1] The hoard has been described as a very rare find in both an Estonian and a European context. [3]

Celtic brooch Ring-and-pin clothing fastener

The Celtic brooch, more properly called the penannular brooch, and its closely related type, the pseudo-penannular brooch, are types of brooch clothes fasteners, often rather large; penannular means formed as an incomplete ring. They are especially associated with the beginning of the Early Medieval period in the British Isles, although they are found in other times and places—for example, forming part of traditional female dress in areas in modern North Africa.

Byzantine art Art of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire

Byzantine art refers to the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Muslim states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.

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Cuerdale Hoard Viking silver hoard

The Cuerdale Hoard is a hoard of more than 8,600 items, including silver coins, English and Carolingian jewellery, hacksilver and ingots. It was discovered on 15 May 1840 on the southern bank of a bend of the River Ribble, in an area called Cuerdale near Preston, Lancashire, England. The Cuerdale Hoard is one of the largest Viking silver hoards ever found, four times larger than its nearest rival in Britain or Ireland, according to Richard Hall. In weight and number of pieces, it is second only to the Spillings Hoard found on Gotland, Sweden.

Hoxne Hoard Largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain

The Hoxne Hoard is the largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth centuries found anywhere within the Roman Empire. It was found by Eric Lawes, a metal detectorist in the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, England in 1992. The hoard consists of 14,865 Roman gold, silver, and bronze coins and approximately 200 items of silver tableware and gold jewellery. The objects are now in the British Museum in London, where the most important pieces and a selection of the rest are on permanent display. In 1993, the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the hoard at £1.75 million.

Środa Treasure 14th century hoard

The Środa Treasure is a hoard of silver and gold coins, plus gold jewellery and some precious stones. The hoard dates from the mid 14th century. Its largest component is silver coins, of which there are about 3,000 pieces. The hoard was found in years 1985–1988 during renovation works in Silesian town of Środa Śląska, Poland. Today it is mostly kept in the Regional Museum in Środa Śląska.

Vale of York Hoard Viking hoard

The Vale of York Hoard, also known as the Harrogate Hoard and the Vale of York Viking Hoard, is a 10th-century Viking hoard of 617 silver coins and 65 other items. It was found undisturbed in 2007 near the town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. The hoard was the largest Viking one discovered in Britain since 1840, when the Cuerdale hoard was found in Lancashire, though the Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, found in 2009, is larger.

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Penrith Hoard Hoard of 10th century brooches

The Penrith Hoard is a dispersed hoard of 10th century silver penannular brooches found at Flusco Pike, Newbiggin Moor, Near Penrith in Cumbria, and now in the British Museum in London. The largest "thistle brooch" was discovered in 1785 and another in 1830, with the bulk of items being recovered in two groups close to each other by archaeologists in 1989. Whether all the finds made close to each other were originally deposited at the same time remains uncertain, but it is thought likely that at least the brooches were. The brooches are thought to have been deposited in about 930.

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The Galloway Hoard is a hoard of more than 100 gold and silver objects from the Viking age discovered in the historical county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland in September 2014. Found on Church of Scotland land, the hoard has been described by experts as "one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland". It was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast who reported the find to the authorities. A county archaeologist carried out an excavation which unearthed a rich and unusually varied collection of jewellery from the Viking world, Anglo-Saxon England and elsewhere in Europe. It is thought that the hoard was buried some time in the mid-ninth or tenth century, though it is not known why it was buried. It was valued in 2017 by an advisory panel to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) at £2 million. Scottish law allows the finder to keep the full value of treasure without an owner. The National Museum of Scotland raised the funds to give the hoard a permanent home in Scotland.

Spillings Hoard Largest known Viking silver hoard

The Spillings Hoard is the world's largest Viking silver treasure, found on Friday 16 July 1999 in a field at the Spilling farm northwest of Slite, on northern Gotland, Sweden. The silver hoard consisted of two parts with a total weight of 67 kg (148 lb) before conservation and consisted of, among other things, 14,295 coins most of which were Islamic from other countries. A third deposition containing over 20 kg (44 lb) of bronze scrap-metal was also found. The three caches had been hidden under the floorboards of a Viking outhouse sometime during the 9th century.

Sundveda Hoard Viking Age hoard of 482 silver coins

The Sundveda Hoard is a Viking Age hoard of 482 silver coins found in 2008 in Sundveda between Märsta and Sigtuna, not far from Stockholm in Sweden. It is the largest silver hoard found in the Mälaren region since 1827.

Molnby Hoard is a Viking Age deposit of 163 silver coins found in Molnby, Vallentuna Municipality in Sweden in October 2016. Most of the coins come from the area around Samarkand in Central Asia and date from the 10th century. The hoard is one of the largest Viking Age hoards to have been discovered in the province of Uppland.

The Saka Hoard is a silver hoard discovered in 2015 in Saka, Estonia. It consists of two neck rings and two spiral rings made of silver.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Thomas, Suzie (21 April 2014). "Ubina Hoard". Trafficking Culture. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 "Ubina Hoard Case". SHERLOC (Sharing Electronic Resources on and Laws on Crime). UNODC. Archived from the original on 12 February 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Ulst, Ingrid (2010). "The problems of "black archaeology" in Estonia" (PDF). Estonian Journal of Archaeology. 14 (2): 153–169. doi:10.3176/arch.2010.2.04 . Retrieved 11 February 2017.