This blog was researched and written by Louisa Emms, a Masters student at the University of Leicester who recently completed a student placement at the Yorkshire Museum.
Click on the images for a larger view.
Roman gold finger ring, YORYM: 2007.3059
This ring was created between 175 AD and 410 AD, meaning it comes from the Roman occupation of Britain. The ring is made entirely out of gold. Finger rings were a new type of jewellery to Roman Britain and soon became extremely popular. They were made from all types of materials, including jet and iron, as well as gold ones such as this and the one below. Consequently, the wearing of finger rings themselves did not indicate a person’s status, but more the material that the rings were made from. Gold was a precious metal in the Roman period, as it still is in the modern day, meaning that these rings were owned by people of high status.
The hexagonal shape of the ring means it is classified as a Giraud type 9 ring. The ring being an unusual shape hints that it may convey more wealth on the wearer than a typical circular ring. Although the lack of carvings or jewels suggests that this ring was not designed for someone of extremely high status, unlike the ring below…
Roman finger ring with a garnet, YORYM: 2011.187
Unlike the finger ring above, this ring has a garnet embedded. Senators and bureaucrats were more likely to wear rings with jewels on as this immediate visual indicated to the observer that the wearer is someone of particularly high status. This ring was created between 100 AD and 300 AD which places it in the same time frame as the other. This period was when the Roman Empire hit its peak power over Brittania. By 100 AD most of the 8000 miles of Roman roads had been built and these made trade and transporting troops across the island much quicker.
YORYM: 2011.187 is documented as an untraced find which means the location of its discovery and any other provenance is unclear. However, this finger ring bears a striking resemblance to the 4th century Thetford Hoard which is on display at the British Museum. This hoard has rings of many sizes and shapes but two of the finger rings look very similar to YORYM: 2011.187. This suggests that this ring could have been created at a nearby location during a similar time frame.
10th century Anglo-Scandinavian ring, YORYM: 2010.538
This is an Anglo-Scandinavian gold ring, meaning it was created in England during a period and area of Scandinavian occupation, approximately from between 900 AD and 1000 AD. The ring was created by weaving the gold rods together and then hammering them so they became tight and compacted into one solid object. This design shows incredible craftsmanship and would not have been cheap. Most Viking jewellery was made from bronze or silver, gold being reserved for the elite which further supports the opinion that this ring would have been particularly expensive. The ring weighs an impressive 14.7g which is further testament to the privilege it bestowed on the wearer as a working person would not be able to carry around a ring of this weight on their finger all day.
This ring was discovered by metal detectors in Towton, North Yorkshire in 2008. The 10th century was an important time for Scandinavian Yorkshire. The previous century had seen the Vikings extend their influence from short raids to settlement, and the coming century brought about the end of Viking influence in England with the invasion of William the Conqueror. In 954 York was lost to the Vikings and once again rejoined the rest of England under Anglo-Saxon rule.