Johannes Folkestad was out walking with his metal detector on a hilltop at Fjaler in the western Norwegian county of Sogn of Fjordane last month when the dark November day suddenly brightened considerably. Folkestad found what historians call a “sensational” buckle from the Middle Ages.
“It was quite dark and I didn’t realize what was in the dirt until I rinsed it off in the kitchen at home,” Folkestad told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Then my heart started beating really hard. I knew that I’d found something really old.”
It turned out to be a buckle made from a French coin, possibly from the 1200s or 1300s. The coin was richly decorated with French lilies and special crosses known as cross patée, according to Terje Masterud Hellan of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. He said the coin had been used as a means of payment, and later turned into a decorative ornament.
It’s made of gold with the inscription PHILLIPVS REX on one side, believed to be either King Phillip III or IV, from the late 1200s. On the other side is an inscription TVRONVS CIVIS, which Hellan said suggests it was made in the city of Tours.
He said no such French coin had been found in Norway before Folkestad found this one in Sogn og Fjordane, where another local historian said its owner probably simply lost it off his or her clothing long ago. Folkestad turned it in to the museum in accordance with Norwegian law, which requires delivery of all objects found that date from before 1537. Folkestad wasn’t upset about needing to give it up.
“This is an object of historic value,” he told NRK. “I think it’s important that it be taken care of by the public sector.”