For the first time, archeologists have uncovered an entire set of tools within the remains of an ancient Viking fortress.

The discovery occurred on the Island of Zealand in Demark at a 10th century ring-shaped site named Borgring. Archeologists, tipped off by amateur counterparts using metal detectors, excavated a deposit of earth containing the tools beneath what was once the fortress gatehouse. It was then brought back to the lab, examined using CT scans, and meticulously sorted until the heavily corroded items emerged. You can see a time lapse of the process to "open" the 1000-year-old toolbox below.

"This is not an ordinary find," Archaeologist Nanna Holm, team leader for the excavations at Borgring, 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."

While only traces of the wooden box that once held the tools remains, the researchers have been able to make out some of the estimated 14-16 items. These include a set of spoon drills for making holes in wood, tweezers or pliers, a piece of chain, and an iron drawplate for making wire.

viking toolbox One of the CT scans taken of the Viking toolbox. An iron drawplate, an item for making metal wire, can be clearly seen in the bottom right. (Photo: Danish Castle Centre)

“I’m quite content that we found so many objects in a very small space," Holm added to Science Nordic. “It’s exciting that there are so many things that we couldn’t see on the scan. However, I’d hoped that the things wouldn’t be so corroded, which would’ve allowed me to say what everything is with greater certainty,” says Holm.

Because iron was a highly valued item during the Viking era, Holm and her team speculate that this particular set was likely buried when the gatehouse collapsed.

"We found the tools under the posts, so there’s some evidence that the gate collapsed, and it probably did so because they were rotten, old, and unstable," she said. "We only discovered the outline of the posts, suggesting that the rest simply rotted away. Then the tools got buried until we discovered them now."

After a thorough cleaning by conservationists, a process expected to expose greater detail, the tools will be placed on display at Borgring next summer.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.