Metal detectorists exploring an area in southern Finland have stumbled upon the burial plot of a fascinating ancient figure.
The extraordinarily well-preserved body was found buried with different swords, perhaps to aid him as he journeyed into the afterlife, Finnish news outlet YLE reports.
The grave, located in a field in Janakkala, Finland, has been preliminarily dated back to the 12th century -- around the time Christianity began to take root in the area. Amateur explorers turned the site over to the National Board of Antiquities after discovering evidence of ancient weaponry.
“There were two swords, one on top of the other, the smaller of which was a Viking-era artifact," NBA researcher Simo Vanhatalo told YLE. "There is now speculation that it may have been in a fire. In other words, it may have been an heirloom that was in a cremation fire. So that’s a rare combination. It’s one of the longest swords in Finland, from the crusade or medieval era roughly."
While the Viking-era sword has a broken blade and evidence of fire exposure, both seem to have been used as weapons, not decorations, NBA assistant researcher Jan-Erik Nyman told The Huffington Post in an email.
Further testing is planned on both the body and the artifacts.
"The deceased was probably a wealthy and important man in the Crusade Period society," Nyman said. "DNA- and isotope-analysis of the bones might tell us more about his life and background, but it will take time before these analyses are done."
Researchers hope the grave will offer a rare look at the customs from this important period in Finnish history.
"We hope this exciting find might shed new light on the society and on the life of the people living in the Häme area of Finland during the time of transition between Pagan and Christian beliefs," Nyman added.