We’ve all heard the stories of King Arthur. The famous legends say that Arthur had a strong connection with swords. He was the only person able to pull a sword out of a stone and become the rightful king, and later on, he was said to be presented with a magical and powerful sword named Excalibur by a mystical being called the ‘Lady of the Lake.’ Well, even though those stories are all just myths and legends, a young girl in Sweden lived her own real-life version of the Arthurian legend when she pulled an ancient sword out of a lake.
8-year-old Saga Vanecek made headlines all over the world after finding the sword, which was believed to be 1,500 years old. It’s an extraordinary story, and it all began with a simple family trip to a cabin by the lake, proving that sometimes, even the simplest of days can turn into something totally unexpected and truly special. Here’s the story of how one little girl found a precious artifact in an unexpected place!
No story can be complete without a hero, and in this particular case, our hero is a young Swedish-American girl named Saga Vanecek. Eight years old at the time of the incident, Saga had grown up in Minneapolis in her father’s home state of Minnesota, USA, also interestingly known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
While her father is American, Saga’s mother is Swedish, and she spent a lot of time in Sweden visiting her mom’s side of the family over the years as she grew up. Eventually, they all decided to move to Sweden in order to spend more time with the rest of the family.
Like a lot of families around Sweden and elsewhere around the world, Saga’s family likes to get together once a year for a special little vacation. Each summer, Saga, her parents, and her little brother all go to stay in a cabin by the Vidostern Lake in the Tanno area of Southern Sweden.
It’s not far from their home, so it’s a convenient place to go, and it’s also a very beautiful area, offering typically Swedish landscapes with lots of beautiful blue water and natural surroundings. In short, it’s the perfect place for a family vacation, giving every member of the family some time to relax and have fun, making happy memories side by side.
Lake Vidostern is clearly a special place for Saga and her family. Her own mother used to go there often as a child, playing in the lake and swimming around when she was the same age as Saga. Now, so many years later, it’s wonderful that she’s able to take her own daughter, son, and husband to the same place.
It’s a lake with special significance for them all and a place where they have spent many happy summers in the past. However, even though the family had lots of special memories at the lake, none of them could have possibly imagined what would happen on this particular trip. They were all about to experience something truly remarkable, with Saga right at the center of the story.
The incredible incident happened on July 15th, 2018. It seemed to be a normal day, just like any other, but Saga and her family were about to experience something they’d never forget for the rest of the lives. On that sunny and warm Swedish day, Saga was playing with a friend down on the beach by the side of the lake.
Whenever she visits the lake, she likes to spend most of her time either on the sand or out in the water. Just like any other little kid, she enjoys the simple things like skimming rocks across the water’s surface or building sandcastles on the beach, feeling the cool breeze and warm sun on her face.
Saga was enjoying her day on the beach. It was a happy and fun day, just like so many others she’d spent there. In fact, it was especially nice that day due to the very warm temperatures. Saga’s father told her that it was the warmest summer in the area for over two centuries!
He also told her he had a job for her to do. He wanted her to go and get a buoy from the family cabin. Since the water level in the lake was so shallow, any boats in the area could end up in danger if they sailed too close to the shore, so Saga’s dad had a good idea to set up a buoy as a warning to any sailors in the area.
Saga did as she was told, rushing back to the cabin to get the buoy. She collected it and then headed back down to the lake. Having spent so many summers by that lake and seen how shallow the water was on that particular day, she understood the importance of her task.
But there was another special reason why Saga was doing the job as quickly as she could! There was a special soccer World Cup game due to be played later that day, and her dad was eager to watch it. He urged Saga to be as fast as she could with the buoy so that they could set it up in the water and head home for the beginning of the game.
Having retrieved the buoy, Saga ran back down to the beach and then slowly started to wade out into the water. She still remembers that moment, as she was asked about it all by news crews and interviewers later on. She says that the water was a little cool but not too cold to make her shiver.
She remembers that the lake felt very soft and refreshing on her skin, saying it was a “nice feeling” as she was able to cool off in the heat of the sun. Meanwhile, her dad was still urging her on and telling her to be as fast as she could so that he could watch his game, but Saga says she mostly ignored him as she likes to take her time with things and do them right.
Saga has a few favorite activities every time she goes to the lake. She likes to relax and enjoy the sun. She enjoys making sandcastles too. And she really loves to skim stones across the surface of the water, an activity that many other kids and grown-ups too also enjoy when visiting lakes and ponds.
She says that she always likes to try and find the smoothest and best-shaped stones, challenging herself to try and make them bounce as many times as possible on the water’s surface before sinking down below. It’s a great way to pass the time, and as she was out in the water, she started fishing around on the bottom, feeling for any good stones to skim.
Saga remembers that moment better than the rest. She was crawling along on the bottom of the lake on her arms and knees, feeling around among the shallow water in her search for the perfect skimming stones or pebbles. That was when something incredible and truly unexpected happened.
She was reaching around beneath the water when her hand and knee suddenly came into contact with something different. It was long and hard and definitely didn’t feel like a stone. She wondered if it might be a big stick or something different, and decided to reach down and pull it out to find out exactly what it was.
Saga reached down along the strange, long object and grabbed onto it with her hands. Pulling with all her might, she lifted it out of the water to take a closer look. She was amazed at what she saw. It was a long metal object, with a handle at one end and a point at the other.
The old metal object was very rusty and worn, but the shape was clear to see: it was a sword! Immediately wanting to show off her amazing find, Saga lifted the sword up to the sky with one hand, posing with the other hand on her hip and saying, “Daddy, I’ve found a sword!”
When asked about how she felt upon holding the sword in the air, Saga said she felt like a “warrior,” with her dad joking that she more closely resembled Pippi Longstocking, the fictional main character in a classic series of Swedish children’s books by author Astrid Lindgren. Either way, it must have been quite an amazing experience for the young girl.
Many people, especially young children with active imaginations, hope and wish to live out their own little adventure someday and discover an ancient treasure or something special. It doesn’t happen to the vast majority of people, but it did happen to little Saga. She got to live the dream, but was the sword in her hands actually real?
Saga’s dad immediately came running over to take a closer look at the item. He remembers thinking that it looked quite real and very old, but he also wondered if it might just be some kids’ toy that had been dumped in the lake and covered in dirt as time went by. He knew he needed to take a look and figure out what was going on.
Saga, meanwhile, was holding the sword in her hands and started to notice how rusty it was. She remembers getting a bunch of sticky brown rust all over her fingers from holding the sword, proving that it was made of metal, and it must have spent quite a while down in the lake.
Saga’s father, Andy Vanecek, admits that he originally thought Saga’s find was just a stick or branch, but then as soon as he got closer and saw its shape, he realized it had to be a sword. He asked Saga to hand it over so that he could take a closer look, and he was probably a little worried that such a rusty item might break or even injure his daughter if she held onto it any longer.
Saga was a little reluctant at first. When telling the story later on, she says that she felt like it was her sword, and suddenly, her dad was taking it away, but she decided to hand it over in the end, knowing that it was the right thing to do.
After her dad had taken the sword away and was taking a closer look at it, Saga only had one thing on her mind: she wanted to tell all of her other family about what had happened. Quickly, she rushed out of the water and back to the shore, where her grandma and mother, along with some other relatives, were waiting.
The family had been enjoying ‘Fika,’ which is a kind of Swedish tradition where people come together for a coffee and cookies in a relaxing moment. Saga interrupted the peace and quiet, yelling, “I found a sword, I found a sword!” and telling her mom and grandma all about what had happened.
Suddenly, the whole family had a whole lot of questions about this sword. What was it? Was it a real sword? How old was it? Where did it come from? Was it worth anything? Who was its original owner? There were so many questions and, for the moment, they didn’t have any answers.
Fortunately, Saga’s dad was on the case. After taking a look at the sword himself, one of the first things he did was show it to some of the family’s neighbors, who had been living in the village for over a century. The neighbors took a look and said that it seemed to be a Viking sword, which would suggest that it was hundreds of years old.
The neighbors had confirmed that the sword seemed to be real and was probably quite old, but they weren’t historians or experts, so they couldn’t give the Vanecek family any more details. The next step was clear: Andy Vanecek had to take the sword to a real expert if he wanted to find out more.
He got in touch with an archaeologist at a local museum. She said that she got goosebumps from seeing the sword and estimated that it was about 1,000 years old or more! The Vaneceks immediately knew that they were now a part of something special. Of course, they also knew that they probably wouldn’t be able to keep the sword and had to hand it over to the authorities for testing, but it was still an amazing find.
The story got even more amazing when the experts were given it a little more time with the sword. They got in touch with the Vaneceks again to say that the initial estimate of 1,000 years was probably a little inaccurate. In actual fact, they said that the sword might be around 1,500 years old, meaning that it was made and used in the 5th or 6th century.
They said that it was so old, it actually predated the Viking age. As news spread around the historic community, more and more experts wanted to see the sword and learn about the story. It was a one of a kind find, with the local museum saying that nothing of its kind had ever been found anywhere in all of Scandinavia.
We’ve already seen that Saga’s dad is clearly a big sports fan, as he was very eager to get home and see the World Cup game, but Saga is a big sports fan too. Having spent much of her childhood in the Minnesota city of Minneapolis, she became a big Minnesota Vikings fan as a child.
The Vikings are a fitting team for Saga to support, given her Nordic heritage. She also commented that the sword she found looks just like a true Viking sword, so there’s another unique connection between her amazing experience and her favorite sports team. She even took a photo of the sword beside some of her Vikings merchandise.
The experts said that Saga’s find was immensely lucky and truly sensational. They believe that the reason she was able to find the sword was that the waters of the lake were unusually shallow on that day, due to the high temperatures and sunny summer the area had been having. It was an amazing find, but there was still a lot of work to be done.
Since the sword was so rusty and damaged, the experts needed to treat it with a lot of care. They measured it up at 85cm and said that there were parts made of metal and wood. After examining it and running some tests, they put the conservation team to work and started trying to restore it as well as they could.
In the meantime, while all of the experts were busy working on the sword, studying its origins and trying to find out as much about it as they possibly could, Saga and her family were being asked to do something special too. They were being asked to keep the whole thing a secret. This was because the local historians and experts wondered if there could be other treasures hidden in the lake.
They wanted to look and search for themselves, and they knew that if the media got hold of the story, countless people would flock to the lake and start fishing around for treasures of their own, which would cause a lot of disruption. Saga says she struggled to keep the secret and did tell one of her best friends what had happened, but didn’t tell anybody else.
Since everyone was doing their best to keep it all a secret, the story about Saga finding the sword didn’t break in the media until October. This gave the experts time to investigate the lake. They sent some diving teams out into the water to swim around under the surface and see what they could find.
The divers didn’t find any more swords or interesting weapons, but they did find an antique brooch that was estimated to be just as old as the sword, as well as a coin that dates back to the 18th century. Their haul wasn’t as big as the experts had hoped, but they were still happy to find a couple of items.
So why was the sword there in the first place, and why was a similarly ancient brooch found in the lake as well? Well, the experts aren’t sure, and they say that we’ll probably never know the full story. However, they can use their knowledge to make some educated guesses about what might have happened.
Some experts say that the lake might have been a place of sacrifice, given the fact that both the brooch and sword were found there. They also thought it might have been a burial location, but later decided that this theory didn’t quite make sense. Either way, it’s interesting to think about who once owned the sword and the brooch and what stories they could tell.
Sadly, Saga knew that she wouldn’t be able to keep the sword as soon as it was handed over to the authorities. The Vanecek family had to accept that the sword was an important historical find and clearly belongs in a museum.
The National Archives of Sweden took over control of the item and spent some time researching and restoring it before placing it on display for all to see and enjoy. Saga said she felt “boo” that the sword couldn’t be hers, but was still happy that other people could see it and admire it, and her dad agreed that it was better to share the weapon with everyone, rather than keeping it all for themselves.
Even though Saga couldn’t keep the sword, she still got to enjoy a very special moment when all the news crews suddenly started arriving in Sweden and asking her for interviews. She spoke to some big media and news outlets, including The Guardian, and shared her tale with them all. She also got to celebrate with her classmates and tell them all about what had happened too.
One day, she walked into the class, and her teacher had decided to throw a special party to celebrate her finding the sword! The class all got to eat tasty ice cream and watch Saga’s TV interviews on the big screen. She says that this was a really fun day and she was pleased to see that her friends were so interested in the story too.
Saga may not have been able to keep the original sword, but it will be displayed in a museum with the words “Saga’s Sword” underneath for many years to come. In the meantime, she decided to set up a fundraiser on the internet, with the help of her dad, asking people to donate and help her buy a replica of the sword she found.
The fundraiser was successful, with hundreds of people from all over the globe hearing about the story and deciding to donate some of their own cash to give Saga this very special gift. Her dad posted updates on the fundraiser page, stating that Saga was “very excited” by it all and grateful to so many people who had helped out.
Usually, when you find something special and decide to do the right thing and hand it over to the authorities, one of the things you might think about is a possible reward. Saga never really seemed to care too much about being paid for her find, but the Swedish National Heritage Boards decided that she deserved some kind of cash prize for the sword, nonetheless.
They ended up giving her a total of 15,000 Swedish krona, which works out at about $1,600-$1,700. They usually pay a lot less for historical finds but gave her a much bigger sum than usual because of the age and uniqueness of the item. They would even have given her more but stated that the sword was in a very poor and damaged condition, so had to focus their funds and efforts on restoring it.
Sweden is one of several European nations to still have a royal family. The country’s King and Queen have special royal titles and get involved in certain ceremonies and official engagements, serving as a symbol of the country, and some people have been saying that Saga deserves her own royal title too!
As the story started to spread around the internet, many people from around the world joked that Saga could be the new Queen of Sweden. They based this idea on the legend of King Arthur, which says that Arthur was given a special sword named Excalibur from the mystical Lady of the Lake. In response, Saga says she’s probably a little too young for any royal responsibilities, but she wouldn’t mind being queen for a day.
Saga experienced something truly unique on the day she found that sword in the lake. It was a truly one of a kind experience, and she says that even though she’s still just a kid, it has changed her life forever. From now on, every single time she goes swimming in the lake, she’ll be looking around under the water to see what she can find.
In Saga’s view, the lake is a “little bit magic,” and she says that she felt a little magical herself when the sword appeared. Who knows? Maybe she’ll stumble across another ancient treasure someday in the future. In the meantime, she’s simply enjoying being a kid and remembering that special day.
So what comes next for little Saga? She’s still only a child, after all, so she has plenty of time to figure out what she wants to do with her life and what kind of work she’d like to get into when she gets older, but many people feel like she might take an interest in history or archaeology after finding the sword. So did she?
Well, in actual fact, she admitted in interviews that even though she enjoyed the experience and liked learning about “old stuff,” she doesn’t have any plans right now to become a historian or spend her days digging up buried treasures. Instead, she says she’d like to become a doctor or vet, or maybe even an actress, living in Paris.
What’s so amazing about this story is just how unlikely it all was. There are, of course, plenty of historical artifacts out there, buried deep underground or lost at the bottom of seas and oceans. Historians and archaeologists work hard to dig up and find these lost treasures of the past, but their work involves a lot of time, preparation, research, and special tools.
Saga didn’t have any of that. She was just a little girl swimming in a lake, and she happened to find an ancient sword in the process. It’s quite a magical story, and it must have been a truly special experience for her and her family to live through! They’ll certainly never forget that amazing day, and Saga’s unique story shows us all that sometimes, fairy tales and legends can come true.