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Thieves nab Denmark's Golden Horns in early morning robbery

A set of gilded horns considered a national treasure of Denmark was stolen from a museum on Monday.

A set of gilded horns considered a national treasure of Denmark was stolen from a museum on Monday.

Thieves broke into a museum in the Danish town of Jelling before it opened Monday morning and snatched the Guldhornene (Golden Horns), as well as some smaller artifacts, according to police.

Usually displayed at the National Museum in Copenhagen, the stolen horns are replicas of the original Guldhornene, which dated back to AD 400 and were discovered, separately, in a Danish field in 1639 and 1734.

The originals were infamously stolen in 1802 by a Copenhagen goldsmith, who melted them down to make counterfeit coins and jewelry before being caught.

The incident became ingrained in Danish history and is studied by many schoolchildren in the form of the poem The Golden Horns by writer Adam Oehlenschlaeger, who also penned the Danish national anthem.

Though the horns stolen on Monday are replicas of the originals (and made of silver with a gold plating), they are considered an important part of the country's cultural heritage and could not be sold, according to Danish art experts.

With files from the Associated Press