March 8th 1725: The residents of Goksøyr farm in Runde, Møre og Romsdal County, discovered marine debris on the beach. It had been a cold, stormy winter night. No one knew what kind of disaster that had taken place that night. The following week, fatalities and more marine debris were discovered. It soon turned out to be the shipwreck of the Dutch vessel ‘Akerendam’. The ship consisted of 200 men and contained large quantities of gold and silver coins, later known as the Runde Treasure (Rundeskatten). The entire crew was killed.
March 19th same year: A public auction was held, selling some of the debris, including canvas, iron straps and several barrels of French wine. The accident caused a sensation in the area and there was great controversy about who should own the values that the ship had brought – Norway or the Netherlands. The deal was that the Norwegian government provided the necessary security, while the Dutch government ran the salvage work. During the summer and autumn of 1725, four additional coin chests were found. The next year, new attempts to find more coins followed but without any result. The shipwreck was history. Until…
July 6th 1972: Three sport divers, Bengt-Olof Gustafsson, Stefan Persson and Eystein Krohn-Dale, discovered the remaining Runde Treasure. They found nearly 57 000 coins, including 6624 gold coins, and the rest in silver. The following year, the area was investigated by the Bergen Maritime Museum and over 400 different coin types were found, of which fifteen unknown types.
The discovery is one of the largest in Europe. The finders got 75 percent of the treasure, the Norwegian government got 15 percent and the Netherlands got 10 percent. The value was estimated to about 10 million dollars.
In 1979, a Norwegian numismatic, Jan Olav Aamlid, bought 6000 gold and silver coins from the Runde treasure at an auction in Switzerland, where he paid nearly 1 million dollars. At that time, it was the highest sum paid for a single quantity of coins.
The Norwegian share of the Runde treasure was divided and given to the University of Oslo’s Coin Cabinet and Bergen Maritime Museum. In 1973, the Maritime Museum conducted an excavation round the Runde Lighthouse. A number of coins and artifacts were recovered and transported to Bergen. In January 2011, some of the coins from the Maritime Museum were transported back to the island for an exhibition at Runde Miljøsenter.
The Runde Island – Facts
Runde is an island in the archipelago Sørøyene in Herøy municipality, Western Norway. Internationally, Runde is known for its bird colonies consisting of about 500 000 birds, including puffins, gannets, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. Skarveura, located on the north side of the island, has one of the largest colonies of shags. In the steep grassy slopes on the north and east side, there is a growing number of northern fulmars. In 2009, the international research and visitor center Runde Miljøsenter was established in Runde. The center is a research station, an information center and a place for seminars, courses and conferences. They offer accommodation and activities for tourists and companies.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Photos from the top: Herøy Kommune, Wrecksite