Dutch historian discovers medieval treasure using a metal detector

A Dutch historian has discovered a unique medieval gold treasure dating back 1,000 years, consisting of four gold ear pendants, two gold leaf bands and 39 silver coins, the Dutch National Museum of Archeology announced Thursday.

Lorenzo Reuter, 27, told Reuters that he had been searching for treasures since he was 10 years old. He discovered the treasure in 2021 in the small northern town of Hogode using a metal detector.

Detail of a gold earring with filigree decoration, from 1000-1050 CE, found in Hoogwoud, Netherlands. Archeology West FrieslandFleur Schening/Archaeology West Friesland

“Discovering something of this value was very special, I can’t really describe it. I never expected to discover anything like this,” Reuter said, adding that it was difficult to keep it a secret for two years.

But the experts of the National Museum of Antiquities needed time to clean up, investigate and date the treasure holdings, and now they found that the smallest coin could be dated to around 1250, which made them assume that the treasure was buried at that time.

39 silver pennies were found in Hoogwoud, Holland.Fleur Schening/Archaeology West Friesland

By then the jewelry was more than two centuries old, the museum said, adding that it must have already been “an expensive and cherished property”.

“Golden jewelry from the High Middle Ages is extremely rare in the Netherlands,” the museum also said.

While the reason for the treasure’s burial will remain a mystery, the museum has indicated that there was a war raging between the Dutch regions of West Friesland and the Netherlands in the mid-13th century, with Hoogwoud being the epicenter.

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Find the Hoogwoud treasure. Fleur Schening/Archaeology West Friesland

It was possible, Lorenzo said, that someone powerful at the time would bury the valuables as a way of protecting them and hopefully dig them up once it was safe again.

Because of its archaeological importance, the treasure was given as a loan to the museum that will display it, but it will remain the official property of treasure hunter Lorenzo Reuter.

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