Coin fibula with a pseudo-solidus of Louis the Pious
Frisian, circa 840-880, gold, 22 mm. diameter
Discovered near Sibrandabuorren, Dantumadiel, Friesland, the Netherlands, November 2022 (Portable Antiquities Netherlands registration number 00119400; Numis number: 1166270)
This extraordinary fibula bearing a coin with the likeness of Emperor Louis the Pious is an important addition to a small group of Frisian jewels incorporating coins of the sovereign which can all be dated to the second and third quarters of the ninth century. Because it was prominently worn on the mantles of elite members of society this object paints an extraordinarily vivid picture of the shifting power relationships in a formative period for the Netherlands. Shortly before Louis’ reign his father Charlemagne had swept through Frisia, leaving new and existing members of the local aristocracy to find ways to express their own power and their allegiances. This not only lead to the local aristocracy’s imitation of a rare golden coin of Louis but also to its incorporation in jewellery that would be visible to their peers and all those who saw them in public. The fibula was discovered in soil taken from the remains of a settlement mound near Sibrandabuorren in Frisia and is therefore an equally important addition to the archaeological record of the Netherlands in the early Middle Ages.
P. Grierson, ‘The gold solidus of Louis the Pious and its imitations’, Jaarboek van het koninklijk Nederlandsch genootschap voor de munt- en penningkunde XXXVIII, 1951, p. 24, Dies O3, R3, pl. I, no. 4; J. Nicolay, ‘Een gouden pseudo-munthanger uit het Groningse terpengebied‘, Paleo-aktueel 19, 2008, pp. 161-167; S. Coupland, ‘Recent finds of imitation gold solidi in the Netherlands', The numismatic chronicle 176, 2016, pp. 261-269.