LANCUM-972281: 2004 T255 Viking rings

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Unique ID: LANCUM-972281

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Three silver rings from Cumwhitton burial (grave 24)

The precious metal finds from the grave comprise three heavily corroded silver rings. Surface metal analysis conducted at the British Museum indicated an approximate silver content for them of 97%. The associated non-precious metal finds from the grave are also listed below.

1) a finger-ring consisting of a strip forming a plain, lozenge-shaped bezel with tapered shoulders and the ends twisted round each other; diameter, 25 mm max; height of bezel, 11 mm max (find no. 798). This form of ring is typical of the Viking period and imitates contemporary silver bracelets, one of which was found in a hoard deposited around AD 850-950 found at Hørdum, Denmark (R. Skovmand, 1942, 'De danske Skattefund fra Vikingetiden og den ældste Middelalder indtil omkring 1150', Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, 1942, 1-275, fig. 2c). A comparable punch-decorated ring from Fyrkat, Denmark, is illustrated by J. Graham-Campbell (1980, Viking Artefacts, London, cat. no. 219, pl. 219) and there is also a punch-decorated gold ring from Thetford (A. Rogerson and C. Dallas, 1984, Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80 [East Anglian Archaeological Report 22], fig. 110, 12). A Viking punched silver ring of different form from Bolton, E. Yorkshire, was recorded as a Treasure find in the DCMS Treasure Annual Report 2001, p. 34, no. and fig. 45; and another from Great Finborough, Suffolk, has been reported to the Coroner (ref. 2002 T279). A further potential Treasure item is a Viking gold ring from Beachamwell, Norfolk (2004 T267).

2) a ring consisting of a plain wire with its ends twisted round each other; diameter, 32 mm max (find no. 803). Simple knotted wire rings of this type are frequently found strung onto Viking bracelets dating to the late 9th and 10th centuries, e.g. from Gotland, Sweden (M. Stenberger, 1958, Die Schatzfunde Gotlands der Wikingerzeit, Stockholm, pls. 176, 4; 181, 5; 186, 11-12). Ten such rings were suspended on a bracelet from Vålse, Denmark and a ring of narrow strip rather than wire is on another from the great hoard of Viking silver found at Cuerdale, Lancashire, which was deposited around AD 905 (E. Hawkins, 1847, 'An account of coins and treasure found in Cuerdale', Archaeological Journal, vol. 4, pp. 111 - 130, fig. 54).

3) small ring of the same form as no. 2; diameter, 13 mm max (find no. 804). Such rings were often used to link items of jewellery, e.g. to hang strings of beads, etc., between a pair of brooches. A similar, though smaller, silver wire ring was found in grave 4 at the Viking cemetery of Fyrkat, Denmark, where it is suggested it may have served to suspend a pendant (E. Roesdahl, 1977, Fyrkat. En jysk vikingeborg, II. Oldsagerne og Gravpladsen, Copenhagen, p. 140, fig. 139b).

The finds associated in the same grave at Cumwhitton as the rings comprise 7 glass beads, an iron sword, a knife, 2 iron objects, a stone object (whetstone?) and 3 flints. They are currently being conserved at the English Heritage Conservation Laboratory at Fort Cumberland and the man-made items are contemporary with the rings.

The rings from Brampton date to the late 9th or early 10th century AD and would therefore qualify as Treasure under two of the stipulated criteria of the Treasure Act: they are more than 300 years old and the precious metal content exceeds 10%. The other finds from the grave therefore also qualify as Treasure by association.

B.M. Ager

Department of Prehistory & Europe

4 October 2004


TVC meeting 16/04/2008

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Tullie House Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2004T255


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 3

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Friday 2nd July 2004

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Dot Boughton
Identified by: Mr Ben Edwards

Other reference numbers

Other reference: 2004 T255
Treasure case number: 2004T255

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Cast

Spatial metadata

Region: North West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cumbria (County)
District: Carlisle (District)
To be known as: Carlisle

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Controlled archaeological investigation (stratified)
Current location: Tullie House Museum
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Audit data

Recording Institution: LANCUM
Created: 10 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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