A 27-year-old historian has found a unique 1,000-year-old mediaeval gold treasure using a metal detector.
One of the pieces is said to feature a depiction of Jesus Christ and the historian will reportedly get to keep the priceless artefacts.
The Dutch historian, who has been named as Lorenzo Ruijter, reportedly made the discovery in 2021 but it has only come to light now.
The treasure, found in Hoogwoud, in the municipality of Opmeer in North Holland, included four gold earrings, two gold strips and 39 silver coins.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden, on Thursday, 9th March, saying: “In 2021, a detector seeker in Hoogwoud (municipality of Opmeer in North Holland) found a thousand-year-old gold treasure: four decorated gold pendants in the shape of a crescent moon, along with two pieces of gold leaf that fit together and 39 small silver coins.
“The dating of the coins in the period 1200-1250 indicates that the valuables were hidden in the ground around the middle of the thirteenth century.
“The jewellery was already two centuries old and was an expensive and cherished possession.”
The museum also said: “Gold jewellery from the ‘High Middle Ages’ is extremely rare in the Netherlands. In addition, important historical events took place during the period in which this treasure find is buried.
“It was a troubled time of wars between West Friesland and the county of Holland, in which the Dutch count Willem II dies in the vicinity of Hoogwoud. This makes the treasure find of great significance for the archaeology and history of North Holland and West Friesland – and even of national and international importance.”
The experts said that the most important pieces of the treasure are the earrings, which date back to the 11th century AD.
They said: “The most important objects from the Hoogwoud treasure find are the four earrings from the eleventh century. It concerns two pairs about five centimetres wide: two pendants with engraved scenes and two with filigree decorations. These are fine, twisted threads made of gold balls.
“The jewellery is decorated on one side and has fragile suspension brackets. This suggests that they were probably not pierced through ears, but were worn on a hood or a headband. So only one side was visible.
“Examples of this are known from German images from the same period.”
One of the pieces features a man’s head believed to be that of Jesus Christ, with the experts saying: “The two strips of gold leaf, which fit together, were also once attached to the edge or waistband of clothing, as evidenced by the discovery of small textile fibres. One piece is badly damaged, probably when ploughing the soil in which the objects lay for centuries.
“Another piece features an engraving of a man’s head with rays surrounding it. This is interpreted as a portrait of Christ, as Sol Invictus, the ‘Unconquered Sun’. Comparable gold earrings have only been found three times in the Netherlands.”
The museum said the coins provide clues as to when the treasure was buried, with the experts saying it was probably around 1248 AD.
The museum said: “The 39 small silver pennies, as the coins are called, give a clue to the date when the treasure find was buried: in, or shortly after 1248. Small pieces of textile found with the pennies indicate that they were wrapped in a cloth or bag.
“These are tokens from the Diocese of Utrecht, from various counties (Holland, Guelders and Cleves) and from the German Empire. The youngest copies were struck in 1247 or 1248, under William II as king of the Holy Roman Empire.”
The museum explained that Rujiter will retain ownership of the items, which are being loaned to the museum. The statement said: “After his discovery, the finder, detector seeker and historian Lorenzo Ruijter formally reported the Hoogwoud finds to the inter-municipal organisation Archeology West Friesland. The jewellery and coins in the National Museum of Antiquities were then cleaned, preserved and then extensively examined.
“Because it concerns an archaeological discovery of national significance, it has been decided to temporarily loan the find to the National Museum of Antiquities, as this is where the national collection of archaeology is managed and presented. The jewellery and coins remain the property of the finder.”
The treasure can be viewed in the Temple Hall of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden until mid-June 2023.