Gold Earrings and Silver Coins Discovered in the Netherlands, Dating Back 1,000 Years

The metal detector of treasure hunter Lorenzo Ruijter, a Dutchman, eventually went off after nearly three hours of fruitless searching. To his astonishment, he unearthed 39 silver coins, two lengths of gold leaf, and four gold earrings.

This stunning discovery was made by Ruijter in 2021 near Hoogwoud, a small town north of Amsterdam. However, for the past two years, he has been required to keep his treasure a secret while the Dutch National Museum of Antiquitiesstudied and dated the antiquities.

Now, the museum has revealed that Ruijter’s relic is probably one thousand years old. Based on the dates of the most recent coins, the museum’s specialists conclude that the treasure was interred between 1200 and 1250 C.E. At that time, the jewelry was already 200 years old, which implies that it was someone’s “priceless and cherished possession,” according to a museum statement translated by Google.

A portrait of Jesus Christ is engraved on one pair of earrings. Archeology West-Friesland / Fleur Schinning

Charlotte Campenhout of Reuters quotes 27-year-old Reuijter as saying, “It was very special to discover something so valuable; I can’t really explain it.” “I never expected to discover anything like this.”

After cleansing the medieval artifacts, scholars were able to discover more about them. The four ornaments, for instance, date to the eleventh century, according to the museum. They are crescent-shaped and approximately two inches (five centimeters) broad. One pair is engraved with the figure of Jesus Christ surrounded by sun rays, while the other is embellished with filigree, which consists of thin, interwoven strands made from gold spheres. Since the earrings have delicate suspension brackets and are only embellished on one side, they were probably worn on a headdress or a veil instead of in perforated ears.

In the Netherlands, similar gold earrings have only been stolen three times, according to the museum’s statement.

Researchers discovered tiny textile fibers affixed to the two gold leaf strips, indicating that they were likely worn on the waistline or edge of a garment.

In addition to the 39 silver coins, they discovered tiny fragments of fabric, indicating that they were once enclosed in a sack or piece of linen. The coins consist of tokens from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Utrecht, as well as pennies from multiple Dutch counties and the German Empire. Some were created in 1247 or 1248 during the reign of William II.

A reconstruction of the ornaments’ attachment to a headpiece or cover. Archeology West-Friesland / Fleur Schinning

While historians know the antiquity of the treasure, they still have many doubts. For example, they do not know who interred the artifacts or, more significantly, why.

During a mid-13th-century conflict between the Dutch regions of West Friesland and Holland, experts theorize that someone wanted to safeguard their most cherished possessions. Bruno Waterfield of the LondonTimes suggests that the treasure’s owner was possibly a noblewoman escaping the conflict.

The fact that the treasure was buried during this period of conflict makes the discovery “of great significance for the archaeology and history of North Holland and West Friesland—and even national and international importance,” according to the museum’s statement.

Ruijter will eventually possess the treasure. However, he is temporarily lending it to the museum, where it will be on display until mid-June. It will become part of the museum’s temporary “The Year 1000” exhibition in mid-October.

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