Highlights from the West Berkshire Museum Collection – December 2020

This year, West Berkshire Museum had acquired three historic objects of personal adornment which were found by metal detectorists in Berkshire and were declared treasure.

The first is a gold Roman finger ring (BERK-375356) which dates to the 1st – 3rd century AD. It is a plain circular band with an oval intaglio made of cornelian, a semi-precious gemstone, depicting a bird, most probably an eagle.

A ring such as this would have been an important possession to the wearer and would have had a special meaning. The eagle was a symbol of the Roman Empire and of the Roman military. The person who owned this ring might have been a soldier, a veteran or an important member of Roman society. The eagle was also the bird of the God Jupiter and might have been an important deity to the owner. The size of this ring is around a UK size M which is actually the average ring size for a woman. However, rings of this type were typically worn by men. Things like age and genetics play a part in ring sizes and we also don’t know on which finger this might have been worn.

This Medieval silver pendant (BERK-EF232D) dates to the 13th – 14th centuries and was discovered in the parish of Inkpen. The letters are an abbreviation of the Hebrew saying; “Ata gibor le’olam Adonai” (You are mighty forever, O Lord).

This Post-Medieval silver dress hook (BERK-93DC8A) dates to the 16th century. It consists of a four-petalled flower and four conical bosses, with a further central conical boss.

The surface of the front plate and conical bosses are decorated with gilt. This type of dress hook is often described as ‘quatrefoil’ in design, which means a design of four leaves to resemble a flower. On the back near the top there would have been a bar which was stitched to the dress to hook it together.

These are just three of thousands of objects that have been found in Berkshire since the PAS began, thanks to responsible detectorists and members of the public reporting their finds.