Medieval gold inscribed eight point star ring, circa 14th-15th century.


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Description

Medieval gold inscribed eight point star ring. A yellow gold ring composed of four circular panels with an eight point star design on a cross hatched background with polished edges, open to the centre and each bridged by a long triangular pin, alternating with four recessed rectangular panels flanked to either side with decorative symmetrical scrollwork and fine beaded borders, each panel inscribed with a single lowercase gothic letter upon a carved decorative background with traces of white enamel. There are two possible interpretations of the inscription, the first 'l v n e', if read upright, the second 'b i e n' if read circumferentially around the ring. Tested yellow gold, approximately 3.64g in weight, circa 14th-15th century.

Accompanied by documentation from the Portable Antiquities Scheme stating that the ring was found in Rampisham, Dorset in November 2014. It is recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme under reference DOR-46EFBD; and disclaimed under the Treasure Act, reference 2014 T855.

This ring was discovered alongside another smaller ring of the same time period. This particular ring would have been worn over a glove while the smaller ring would have been worn on the same finger underneath the glove. The ring would have been commissioned from a goldsmith of standing, most probably by a nobleman or bishop for his betrothed or wife. The unique design displays miniature versions of annular brooches, which were often gifted as a token of love. The letters having special meaning to them, but the message lost over time as the rings lay undiscovered in a field in Dorset for over six centuries.

A ring of generally similar date and construction was found in Fylde, Lancashire in 2005 (see Portable Antiquities Scheme reference LANCUM-469077) showing similar panels and lettering in French. Additionally a gold annular ring of similar design was found on the Isle of Wight in 2013 (see PAS reference IOW-506491), also displaying lettering in French.

This museum quality ring is in extremely fine condition and a very fine example of Medieval craftsmanship, showcasing several highly technical goldworking techniques and an unusual composite construction.

Ring size guide: O

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