Late medieval and Renaissance gold and silver rings have today been declared treasure by H.M. Coroner Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire District.
A late medieval gold ring was discovered in the Pembroke Community, Pembrokeshire, in February 2014 by Mr Kevin Higgs whilst metal detecting. According to Dr Mark Redknap, of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, who provided expert evidence on this and the other finds, the decorative gold ring, which is of part-hollow construction, with a hexagonal bezel set with a small uncut (cabochon) blue sapphire, dates to the fourteenth century. Milford Haven Maritime & Heritage Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring the item for its collections.
A silver gilt fede (‘faith’) ring was found at Lamphey Community, Pembrokeshire, by Mr P. Jenkins, while metal detecting on 12 October 2013. This is similar to that of some gold decorative rings dating to between about 1350 and 1480. The outside of the hoop has a late medieval inscription reading: jaspar : melchior : baltazar : in a mixture of upper and lower case crude black letter script. This legend invokes the names of the magi, or Three Kings, supposed to be especially effective against falling sickness and fever. Tenby Museum wishes to acquire this item.
A gold religious finger ring was found in Llandissilio West Community, Pembrokeshire in December 2014 by Mr Philip Jenkins. The ring is engraved with the images of the St Catherine holding a sword in her right hand, and a wheel (symbol of her martyrdom) protrudes from behind her left side. The hoop is decorated on the shoulders and sides with sprigs. The inside of the hoop bears the legend ·en·boen·eure· (‘In Good Year’) in late medieval Black Letter script. According to Dr Redknap, such iconographic rings can bear one or more Christian figures or scenes engraved on the bezel, such as the Annunciation with Angel on one panel and Mary on a second panel. Common legends are de bon cuer (‘Be of good heart’) and en boen an. St Catherine appears with St Barbara and St Christopher and the legend en bon cor on a late medieval gold ring from near St Gennys, near Bude, Cornwall. The final word may be a variation of cor (‘heart’, spelled in various ways eg cuer on another late medieval iconographic ring). Narberth Museum wishes to acquire this item.
A silver-gilt posy-ring finger ring was found at Carew Community, Pembrokeshire, by Mr Kevin Higgs while metal detecting on 17th June 2013. The outer surface has a repeating pattern of cells and raised single dots or pellets, while the inner face of the hoop is inscribed with the text: FEARE·GOD·ONLI, in Roman capitals. According to Dr Redknap, this reflects sentiments expressed on other rings such as Feare God from Trawsfynydd, + FEARE GOD from Llantwit Major and lettering, enamelled decoration and form indicate that it is late sixteenth-century in date. Tenby Museum is interested in acquiring this item.
The discoveries were first reported to Mark Lodwick, Co-ordinator of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru), and was subsequently reported on by Dr Mark Redknap, who is Head of Collections & Research in the Department of History & Archaeology, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. He said:
“These cases provide an intimate insight into fashions and personal devotion circulating in Wales in the later medieval and early modern periods.
“These are significant additions to the growing database of treasure cases from Wales, and will enrich existing collections at the local museums in Tenby, Narbeth and Milford Haven who can acquire the artefacts through funds via the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“Visitors to National Museum Cardiff this year can also see fantastic Welsh treasures alongside extraordinary treasures from all over the world in our exciting exhibition Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology which is on until October.”