Earlier publications about the Mästermyr find


Mästermyr. In 1936, a wooden tool chest was discovered during the plowing of a field at Mästermyr on Gotland. Over two hundred iron objects were found inside and around the chest, which is 90 cm long and 24 cm high.

10,000 years in Sweden. National Historical Museum, 1945

A find from Mästermyr on Gotland gives another picture of Viking life. In an area that was once under water, but was transformed into farmland when the moor was drained, a large oak chest was turned up by a farmer’s plow. The chest was full of tools, and near it lay a few copper kettles, several large cowbells and a brazier. It appears that a Viking-Era itinerant tradesman lost all of his tools – perhaps even fell through the ice himself. The Mästermyr find contains no less than a hundred tools, and unusually complete set. One can imagine that they belonged to a tradesman who traveled from farm to farm, offering his services to repair or build new products. The brazier would have served as a lantern in his smithy or carpentry shop, filled with glowing kindling. The tools show that he was a blacksmith and carpenter, but he also worked as a locksmith, coppersmith and cooper.

Brynolf Hellner

The discovery of a complete tool chest in Mästermyr on Gotland is a whole new chapter in terms of extensiveness. By some accident, the owner lost his toolbox in the moor. The contents show that he was a blacksmith, coppersmith and carpenter. The equipment includes a range of hammers and sledges, pliers, a hacksaw, a polishing iron, an anvil with a horn, a couple of punching dies and a hole punch with opposing triangles. These are typical tools of the blacksmith trade. Naturally, we cannot be completely certain what a Viking-Era smith used the tools for simply because they look familiar. The same object may have had different uses over the centuries, but it is easy to think that the two chasing hammers in the find were used for chasing copper or brass, as they are today. The find also includes a pair of plate shears. A nail header among the tools shows that this gifted craftsman also manufactured nails. This selection of tools is accompanied by a few items that are probably of the tradesman’s own manufacture – a couple of elegant padlocks of the same type that have been found in Birka. The lock on the chest, also a familiar sight from Birka, was probably also made by the smith himself.

Andreas Oldeberg, Metalworking during the Viking Era and Middle Ages

Some significant archaeological finds

In the introduction to the chapter, Oldeberg tells about the unique find from Mästermyr in the parish of Silte on Gotland.

In 1936, during agricultural work near the border of the parish of Spronge, about 300 m south of the Mästermyr Canal, was found, at a depth of ½ ell, a large oaken chest containing a large number of tools and other objects made of iron, as well as a few objects of bronze and lead. In addition, some objects were found outside the chest. The majority of these tools belonged to a man who combined the work of a smith and a carpenter.

Metalsmithing was evidenced by a number of objects of various kinds… (This is followed by a long, detailed listing of the tools.)

In addition to these tools, the find contains a number of objects that further indicate his fields of activity. We have several locks and lock parts as well as two large iron keys, which show that he was a skilled locksmith. (Description of various tools.)

As regards the dating of the find, it is likely to be from the latter part of the Viking Era, primarily because of the cubic padlocks, the stamped ornamentation on the lead plate, the shape of the key shafts and the hook on the scales.

J. E. Ljungqvist, “M.” (1914)

Mästermyr, one of Gotland’s largest moors, west of Hemse, 15 m above sea level. Before being diked out in 1902-10, Mästermyr. measured 26.7 km², of which about 20 km² was moorland and 3.2 km was swamp. With its rich birdlife in the expansive jungle of great fen sedge, Mästermyr was an Eldorado for nature lovers. Now about 12 km² are cultivated, primarily in the eastern part. Unfortunately, the draining of this wetland has cost Gotland part of its unique landscape. Interesting historical relics have been found in Mästermyr.

Viking og Hvidekrist exhibition. Catalog

Lena Thålin-Bergman. The Mästermyr chest, tool chest with tools.

95. Oak, iron, Mästermyr, Spronge parish, Gotland, Sweden. Circa 1000 AD, Swedish. National Historical Museum, 21592.
Chest (oak, L 89; W 26; H 24), … The find included an array of files, knives, chisels, a brazier, and several fragmentary metal vessels and padlocks.

The chest, wrapped in an iron chain, was discovered in 1936, during the plowing of land that during the Viking Era was lakebed. It turned out to contain Europe’s largest comprehensive find of tools: a set of tools for iron and wood working, as well as raw materials, works in progress and completed objects.

The owner of the chest was able to forge tools and make rivets and nails, and probably also sheet-metal products such as metal vessels, bells, fittings and locks. He could also cast metal, weld and embellish with bronze. The same smith was also a builder and perhaps a boat builder, wagon maker and furniture maker.