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1,000-Year-Old Viking Toolbox Found at Mysterious Danish Fortress

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A Viking toolbox found in Denmark has been opened for the first time in 1,000 years, revealing an extraordinary set of iron hand tools that may have been used to make Viking ships and houses, according to archaeologists.

The tools were found this summer at a mysterious, ring-shaped fortress at Borgring, on the island of Zealand. The famed 10th-century Danish king Harald Bluetooth is thought to have ordered the construction of the fortress.

So far, archaeologists have found at least 14 iron tools inside a single deposit of earth excavated from a gatehouse building of the fortress. The researchers said only traces remain of the wooden chest that once held the tools. [See Photos of the Viking Tools Found at the Danish Fortress]

Iron was valuable in Viking-age Denmark, and the researchers think the tools once belonged to a craftsman who occupied a workroom in the gatehouse until it collapsed in the late 10th century.

The archaeologists are still studying the heavily rusted objects, but they’ve already identified several sophisticated hand tools and other metal items, including a set of “spoon drills” that were used to make holes in timber; what looks like a pair of tweezers or small pliers; a “clink nail” used to fasten wooden planks together; four carefully crafted chain links attached to an iron ring; and a drawplate to make metal wires that may have been used in jewelry.

Archaeologist Nanna Holm, a curator at the Danish Castle Center in Vordingborg who is leading the excavations of the ringed-shaped fort at Borgring, said this is the first time an entire set of tools has been discovered in a Viking workplace.

“This is not an ordinary find,” Holm told Live Science. “Not many tools are found in Scandinavia, but the others found before this have all been left for the gods, by being put down in a swamp.”

The newfound tools are special because they were found where the craftsman would have been working, she said. “That’s why it’s so exciting for us to see what’s inside, because we can see what one man has used at this specific site,” Holm added.

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