HESH-B61048: Early Medieval / Byzantine: Gold Ring

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

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Unique ID: HESH-B61048

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published


Early Medieval gold ring from the South Shropshire area

Ref.: 2012 T561


(Rec. no. 8174)

Surface metal analysis conducted at the British Museum indicated an approximate gold content for the ring of 93%, a silver content of approximately 6% and a copper content of approximately 1%. The ring weighs 8.21 grams.

The ring consists of a plain, butt-jointed, circular band to the outer surface of which beaded filigree wires have been soldered right round in four diminishing tiers including a single beaded wire running round the apex, giving the ring a triangular section; diameter 26mm. Without taking a section of the ring its internal construction remains uncertain.

It has not been possible to find a close parallel for the construction of the ring in the Roman period. In the Early Medieval period, however, gold jewellery was frequently embellished with filigree, although the wires were usually laid side by side, or else soldered along the tops of patterns of repoussé ridges on inlaid gold trays to add an element of relief to the decoration. Notably, too, in Celtic metalwork of the period the wires could be piled one on top of another for effect (P.T. Craddock, 1989, "Metalworking techniques", pp. 170-174 in S. Youngs [ed.], 'The Work of Angels'. Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD, British Museum Press, London). The ring from the South Shropshire area is probably therefore datable to the Early Medieval period, while there is nothing in its construction to suggest a later date.

The ring from the South Shropshire area would therefore qualify as Treasure under two of the stipulated criteria of the Treasure Act: it is more than 300 years old and the precious metal content exceeds 10%.

The object is not disclaimed at either a local or a national level, since Shropshire Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring it and the British Museum would attempt to do so should local efforts fail.

B.M. Ager

Department of Prehistory & Europe
British Museum


Addendum to description:

Six visible strands of beaded gold wire are fixed to an inner hoop of gold, made from a strip approximately 0.6mm thick; a join in this strip can be seen on the interior, running straight across the width. The 'beads' are in fact more or less regular transverse ridges, and the workmanship does not appear to be of particularly high quality. Where they can clearly be seen, the wires are all c. 0.8mm in diameter. They are set two on the outer lower edge, three above, and a single wire offset at the top, to form a roughly D-shaped cross-section to the finger-ring as a whole.

The ring is 26.0mm in external diameter, the band is 3.5mm wide and 3.6mm thick; the internal diameter is 19.7mm and it weighs 8.21g.


Kevin Leahy has been in touch with Niamh Whitfield and Beatriz Chadour and here are their thoughts:

Niamh Whitfield comments that the finger-ring is entirely decorated with beaded wire, clearly made by hand-rolling under a swage, which was probably grooved (so the wire is not twisted). Filigree is a conservative art and so a date and cultural context are still uncertain; it might be seventh century, but there is also a possibility that it could be late Roman. Beaded-wire 'carpeting' is used on some of the Staffordshire hoard pommels (parallel rows concealing the rivets at either end), giving good Anglo-Saxon parallels.

More usually, though, Anglo-Saxon filigree carpeting tends to use twisted wire in combination with beaded wire; this combination can also be seen on the hoops of several sixth- and seventh-century Frankish finger-rings, all however with bezels (e.g. Hadjadj 2007, nos. 259, 346, 351, 362, 378 etc). No other Anglo-Saxon finger-ring seems to have multiple rows of beaded-wire filigree on the hoop.

Beatriz Chadour has commented that it seems likely to be late Roman, Byzantine or early medieval European, and so parallels should probably be sought here in the first instance.

Postscript: Chris Entwhistle at the British Museum has also examined the ring and feels it is unlikely to be Byzantine.


As this object is made of more than 10% precious metal and is over 300 years old, it constitutes potential Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: National importance

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Ludlow Museum Resource Centre
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2012T561


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Middle
Date from: Circa AD 410
Date to: Circa AD 750

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Width: 3.5 mm
Thickness: 3.6 mm
Weight: 8.2 g
Diameter: 26 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Tuesday 7th August 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Peter Reavill
Identified by: Mr Barry Ager
Secondary identifier: Dr Helen Geake

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2012T561

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: South Shropshire

Spatial coordinates

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

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Ludlow Museum Resource Centre
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth less than 0.25 m

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 3 years ago

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