Medieval treasure trove discovered in the Netherlands

Gold jewellery and silver coins, some dating back to the 11th century, have been discovered in Hoogwoud, a town in The Netherlands. They are now on display at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden).

The items were discovered by Lorenzo Ruijter using a metal detector. “It was very special discovering something this valuable, I can’t really describe it,” he explained in an interview. “I never expected to discover anything like this.”

Reconstruction on model, gold earring worn on a headband. Photo © Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning

The highlight of the trove are four decorated gold pendants in the shape of a crescent moon, which have been dated to the first half of the 11th century. They are two pairs, each about five centimeters wide. Two pendants come with engraved scenes and two with filigree decorations. The images are of Christ as Sol Invictus and another depicting a sun wheel, also a Christian symbol. 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.

Thirty-nine silver pennies (1200-1250 AD). Found in Hoogwoud, municipality of Opmeer (The Netherlands) (not all shown). Photo © Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning.

They were found with 39 silver coins, the oldest of which were minted by Dirk van Are, Bishop of Utrecht between 1197 and 1212. The youngest coins were minted in either 1247 or 1248 by William II, Count of Holland and Zeeland. Small pieces of fabric found with the coins suggest they may have been kept inside a pouch.


Two other fragments of gold were also discovered in the trove – they may have once been decorations for a piece of clothing such as a belt. Archaeologists believe that all the items were hidden in the ground in the mid-13th century, but that their original owner never retrieved them.

Detail of gold earring with engraved decoration, ‘Sol invictus’, 1000-1050 AD. Photo © Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning.

The items are now on display at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden until mid-June, and will be later included in a exhibition on The Year 1000 later this year. Please visit the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden website for more details.

Detail of gold earring with filigree decoration, 1000-1050 AD. Photo © Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning.

Dutch-readers can also see a report made by Archeology West-Friesland which has been posted on Lorenzo Ruijter’s page.

Top Image: The treasure find of Hoogwoud. Photo © Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning.