Curator Medieval Collections

Dr. Annemarieke Willemsen
tel: +31 (0)71 516 3168
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Educational background and special fields of interest

Annemarieke Willemsen (b. 1969) studied Art History & Archaeology at Radboud University, Nijmegen, where she was awarded her PhD in 1998 for a thesis on late-medieval children’s toys. Since 1999 she has worked at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities as curator of the Medieval Department, with responsibility for all post-Roman finds from Dutch soil. Her interest focuses particularly on material culture (also as a phenomenon) and everyday life in the Middle Ages, with an emphasis on children, play, education, and fashion. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London and Museum Fellow of the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome.

An ‘omnivorous’ researcher

Willemsen’s trademark is her emphasis on combining sources – objects, images and texts – and highlighting the connections between them. In terms of subject matter, she is ‘omnivorous’. She is a Late Middle Ages specialist who is chiefly occupied, at the National Museum of Antiquities, with Merovingian and Carolingian assemblages. But she has also published on the Romans and Vikings, and is well-versed in the objects dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.


  • Objects used in everyday life, from the Roman era to the 17th century.
  • Material culture, everyday life, and the use of various types of sources.
  • Children, play, education, and fashion in Roman, medieval and early modern times.

Key research projects

  • Medieval children’s toys (1994-1998)
  • Roman toys (1999-2002)
  • The Vikings in the Netherlands (2003-2005)
  • Schools and Pupils in Western Europe, 1300-1600 (2001-2007)
  • Late-medieval belt decorations (2006-2012)
  • The Material Culture of Student Life, 1200-1600 (2008-)
  • L.J.F. Janssen and the excavations of Dorestad in the 19th Century (2009-)
  • Gloves, mittens, and gauntlets, 700-1700 (2013-2016)
  • ‘The Year 1000’ (2021-2023)
Annemarieke Willemsen


PDFs of publications by Annemarieke Willemsen can be downloaded from her page on


  • Kinder delijt, middeleeuws speelgoed in de Nederlanden, Nijmegen 1998 (Ph.D.-thesis).
  • Romeins speelgoed, Kindertijd in een wereldrijk, Zutphen 2003.
  • Vikings! Raids in the Rhine-Meuse Delta 800-1000, Utrecht 2004 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Back to the Schoolyard, The Daily Practice of Medieval and Renaissance Education, Turnhout 2008.
  • Dorestad, een wereldstad in de Middeleeuwen, Zutphen 2009 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Medieval Chic in Metal, Decorative Mounts on Belts and Purses from the Netherlands, 1300-1600 AD, Zwolle 2012.
  • Gouden Middeleeuwen, Nederland in de Merovingische wereld, 400-700 na Chr., Zutphen 2014 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Van hand tot hand, Handschoenen en wanten in de Nederlanden voor 1700, Zwolle 2015.
  • Middeleeuwse tuinen, Aardse paradijzen in oost en west, Leiden 2019.
  • Highlights of the National Museum of Antiquities, The Hague 2020.

Articles in English

  • Medieval Children’s Toys in the Netherlands, Production, Sale, and Trade. In: G. de Boe/F. Verhaeghe (red.), Material Culture in Medieval Europe, Papers of the ‘Medieval Europe Brugge 1997’ Conference (vol. 7), Zellik 1997, 405-412.
  • ‘Images of Toys, The Culture of Play in the Netherlands around 1600’, in: J.B. Bedaux/R. Ekkart (eds.), Pride and Joy, Children’s Portraits in the Netherlands 1500-1700, Ghent/Amsterdam 2000, p. 61-71.
  • A. Willemsen, Out of Children’s Hands, Surviving Toys and Attributes, in: J.B. Bedaux/R. Ekkart (eds.), Pride and Joy, Children’s Portraits in the Netherlands 1500-1700, Frans Halsmuseum Haarlem/ Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, Gent/Amsterdam 2000, 297-303.
  • ‘Playing with Reality, Games and Toys in the Oeuvre of Hieronymus Bosch’, in: J. Koldeweij/ B. Vermet/ B. van Kooij (eds.), Hieronymus Bosch, New Insights Into His Life and Work, Rotterdam 2001, p. 192-199.
  • The Archaeology of Medieval Schools, in: G. Helmig/ B. Scholkmann/ M. Untermann (red.), Centre * Region * Periphery, Medieval Europe Basel 2002, Hertingen 2002, 421-426.
  • Scattered across the Waterside: Viking Finds from the Netherlands, in: R. Simek/U. Engel (red.), Vikings on the Rhine, Recent Research on Early Medieval Relations between the Rhinelands and Scandinavia, Wien 2004, 65-82 + Plate 4-8.
  • The Game of the Month. Playful Calendars in Ghent-Bruges Books of Hours, in: B. Dekeyzer / J. Van der Stock (eds.), Manuscripts in Transition: Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images. Proceedings of the International Congress held in Brussels (5-9 November 2002), Leuven 2005 (Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts 15), 419-430.
  • Looking through Classroom Windows: Daily Life at a Latin School in the Netherlands around 1500, in: A.M. As-Vijvers, J.M.M. Hermans & G.C. Huisman (red.), Manuscript Studies in the Low Countries, Proceedings of the ‘Groninger Codicologendagen’ in Frieslan,d 2002, Groningen 2008, 2-19.
  • The Age of Play, Children’s Toys and the Medieval Life Cycle, Ludica  13-14 (2007-2008), 169-182.
  • Late medieval bling-bling, A collection of decorated leather and metalbase mounts in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden’, in: H. Clevis (ed.), Medieval Material Culture, Studies in Honour of Jan Thijssen, Zwolle 2009, pp. 55-81.
  • ‘Bosch, Hieronymus’, ‘Campin, Robert’, ‘Children in France’, ‘Coster (Koster), Laurens Janszoon’, ‘Dymphna, St’, ‘Geertgen van Haarlem’, ‘Gertrude, St’, ‘Hegius, Alexander’, ‘Justus of Ghent’, ‘Utrecht Psalter’, in: Robert E. Bjork (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages [4 vols.], Oxford 2010, vol. 1: 279, 329, 380-381; vol 2: 455, 523, 688, 716, 773; vol. 3: 915; vol. 4: 1679-1680.
  • Welcome to Dorestad: A History of Searching and Finding ‘the Dutch Troy’, in: A. Willemsen & H. Kik (red.), Dorestad in an international Framework, New Research on Centres of Trade and Coinage in Carolingian Times, Turnhout 2010, 7-16.
  • Dorestad discussed. Connections and conlcusions, in: A. Willemsen & H. Kik (red.), Dorestad in an international Framework, New Research on Centres of Trade and Coinage in Carolingian Times, Turnhout 2010, 179-185.
  • Dorestad, a medieval metropolis, in: S. Gelichi & R. Hodges (eds.), From one sea to another. Trading places in the European and Mediterranean Early Middle Ages, Turnhout  2012, 65-80.
  • Questioning Migration. Continuity and change in the cemetery at Rhenen (4th-8th century AD), in: R. Annaert et al (red.), The very beginnings of Europe? Cultural and Social Dimensions of Early-Medieval Migration and Colonisation (5th-8th century), Brussels 2012, 187-195.
  • ‘Man is a sack of muck girded with silver’: Metal Decoration on Late-medieval Leather Belts and Purses from the Netherlands, Medieval Archaeology 56 (2012) 171-202 [Awarded the Martyn Jope Prize 2012].
  • Dorestad, the northernmost emporium of the Carolingian empire, in: D. Callebaut/H. van Cuyck (eds.), The Legacy of Charlemagne 814-2014, Gent 2015, 209-213.
  • Changing the games, New forms of recreation in the Roman Low Countries, in: W. Hupperetz et al (red.), Keys to Rome, Zwolle 2014, 168-172.
  • The Geoff Egan Memorial Lecture 2013: Taking up the glove: Finds, uses and meanings of gloves, mittens and gauntlets in Western Europe, c.1300-1700 AD, Post-Medieval Archaeology 49-1 (2015) 1-36.
  • That the boys come to school half an hour before the girls: Order, gender and emotion in school, 1300-1600, in: S. Broomhall (red.), Gender and Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Destroying Order, Structuring Disorder, Farnham 2015, 175-195.
  • Dorestad as a fluviatile society, in: J.H. Barrett & S.J. Gibbon (red.), Maritime Societies of the Viking and Medieval World, Cambridge 2015, 108-121.
  • Looking for early-medieval Royal Graves in the Low Countries and the Rhineland, in: A. Willemsen & H. Kik (red.), Golden Middle Ages in Europe: New Research into Early-Medieval Communities and Identities, Proceedings of the Second ‘Dorestad Congress’ held at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2-5 July, 2014, Turnhout 2015, 15-23.
  • A. Willemsen, A ‘Coptic’ bowl from Ewijk and its cemetery context, in: M. Kars, R. van Oosten, M.A. Roxburgh & A. Verhoeven (red.), Rural Riches and Royal Rags? Studies on medieval and modern archaeology, presented to Frans Theuws, Leiden 2018, 56-59.
  • A. Willemsen, Two knitted mittens from a seventeenth-century Dutch shipwreck, in: Jane Malcolm-Davies (ed.), Early Modern Knitting Special, Archaeological Textiles Review 60 (2018), 25-32.
  • Vikings and Frisians in Dorestad, in: M. Stoter & D. Spiekhout (eds.), We Vikings, Frisians and Vikings in the Coastal Area of the Low Countries, Zwolle/Leeuwarden 2019, 136-149.
  • Children’s Toys in Italy, 1350-1550, in: V. Kopp & E. Lapina & (eds.), Games and Visual Culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Turnhout 2020, 265-290.
  • (Re-)collecting the Frankish Cemetery of Niederbreisig in the German Rhineland, in: L.W.S.W. Amkreutz (ed.), Collecting Ancient Europe, National Museums and the search for European Antiquities in the 19th-early 20th century, Leiden 2020, 143-154.

Key exhibitions

  • Medieval Mystery (National Museum of Antiquities, 2003)
  • Down Town. Discover urban archaeology of the Netherlands (National Museum of Antiquities, 2004)
  • Vikings! (Bonn, Utrecht and Roskilde, 2005-2006)
  • Brilliant Bijoux (National Museum of Antiquities, 2007)
  • Dorestad. Medieval Metropolis (National Museum of Antiquities, 2009)
  • Medieval chic, Metal decorations on belts and purses, 1400-1600 (National Museum of Antiquities, 2012-2014)
  • Golden Middle Ages. The Netherlands in the Merovingian World, 400-700 AD (National Museum of Antiquities, 2014)
  • Cutting-edge History (National Museum of Antiquities, 2016)
  • Fibulae (National Museum of Antiquities, 2017)
  • Two centuries young ((National Museum of Antiquities, 2018)
  • Medieval gardens. Earthly Paradises in East and West ((National Museum of Antiquities, 2019)