A treasure hunter made the find of his life with a metal detector, unearthing medieval gold jewelry and silver coins in the Netherlands, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities recently announced.
Lorenzo Ruijter was using his metal detector for more than three hours in 2021 in the Dutch city of Hoogwoud, north of Amsterdam, when he made the shocking discovery. The find was announced two years later because museum researchers needed time to clean, examine, and date the finds. Ruijter discovered four gold earrings, two pieces of gold leaf, and 39 silver coins that are approximately 1,000 years old.
“It was the end of the day, I actually wanted to go home. Then the detector went off, I dug it up and then I had something gold in my hands,” Ruijter told NH News. “At first I thought it was a piece of a jam jar. Then I wiped it clean and saw all kinds of engravings. At that moment you are just shaking with adrenaline. With shaking hands I lifted that thing,” he said.
The four earrings discovered date back to the 11th century and are the most significant finds, according to the museum. A portrait of Jesus Christ surrounded by rays of sunshine is engraved on one set of earrings. The other has an ornamental filigree design, which consists of twisted threads made of gold balls, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Both sets of jewelry are in the shape of crescent moons and measure five centimeters wide, and likely came from a noblewoman, according to The Times.
The two pieces of gold leaf were at one time likely connected to pieces of clothing near the waistband, and the pieces still fit together. The coins were dated between 1200-1250 A.D. and were probably buried in the mid-13th century, according to the museum. The “silver pennies,” as the museum refers to them, would have been held in a bag or cloth based on pieces of textile found in the vicinity.
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The museum notes that finding gold jewelry from this time period is “extremely rare” in the country. The 39 coins come from Holland, Guelders, and Cleves counties in the Netherlands, as well as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Utrecht and the German Empire. It’s possible that the gold and silver were buried during a wartime period in the 13th century between West Friesland and the County of Holland, according to the museum, which notes that Dutch Count Willem II died near the area where the treasure was found.
“This makes the treasure find of great significance for the archeology and history of North Holland and West Friesland – and even of national and international importance,” the press release says.
The finds are on temporary loan to the museum and are currently on display in its Temple Hall until June. Beginning in October, the treasure will be included in an exhibition called “The Year 1000,” which explores The Netherlands during the Ottonian period, between 900 and 1100 A.D. After being on display for the public, the museum says that “the jewelry and coins remain property of the finder.”