Medieval gold ingot latest acquisition National Museum of Antiquities

23 February 2010

Gold ingot, clear to see that a little piece was cut off. (photo © Wilbert Klomp)Gold ingot, clear to see that a little piece was cut off. (photo © Wilbert Klomp)
Gold ingot, strip of 22-karat gold (photo © Wilbert Klomp)Gold ingot, strip of 22-karat gold (photo © Wilbert Klomp)

The latest acquisition in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities is a rolled up gold ingot from the Middle Ages. It will be on display until 9 June 2010 in a special display case in the central hall of the museum. The gold ingot weighs 20 grams, is over 14 centimetres long and originates from the sixth century. The rolled up strip of 22-karat gold was found in 2008 in the area of Odijk (Utrecht province, the Netherlands) by an amateur archaeologist.

Easily transportable form of tender

The gold ingot is made of ninety per cent gold, which corresponds to 22 karats. Gold was used often in Merovingian dynasty (5th-7th century) as a means of payment and as a gift. Coins and jewellery were often made of gold. This gold ingot was rolled to make it easier to carry on a string or belt. It is clear to see that a small piece was cut off on one side. It is possible that a wealthy merchant carried the ingot with him and lost it when crossing the Utrecht ridge. It is unique: rolled up currency gold does occur in other countries, but this object does not have any precise parallel.