BH-C726E1: Early-Medieval finger ring

Rights Holder: St. Albans District Council
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Unique ID: BH-C726E1

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A gilded copper alloy finger-ring decorated with a gold cloisonné setting inlaid with enamel.

The hoop is made from copper alloy and thickly gilded across much of its surface except towards the back, where much of the gilding has been lost. Patches of green corrosion are present in several places. The hoop is D-shaped in section, flatter and narrow at the back, and expanding towards the front to form a lozenge-shaped integral bezel. The hoop has split open at the back.

In the centre of the bezel is an applied, diamond-shaped cloisonné setting inlaid with different coloured enamel. The setting is made from gold strips and set within a gilded-copper alloy beaded collar. The gold setting is divided into individual cells by further gold strips, some of which are missing. In the centre is a circular cell inlaid with bright blue enamel. At the cardinal points are of the diamond are inward-projecting triangular cells, three of the four surviving, and inlaid with now-discoloured white enamel. The field between the circular and triangular cells is sub-divided into further cells, probably originally four but with some of the cell walls lost. Three-quarters of the field retains dark green enamel inlay.

The left and right of the cloisonné setting, covering the shoulders of the finger-ring, is tendril-like decoration in plain gilded copper alloy wire. Each tendril terminates in a tight scroll, at the centre of which is a granule. Further granules are interspersed among the tendrils, but damage and corrosion obscures some of the pattern.


Diameter: 28 mm

Height (of bezel): 18 mm

Weight: 11.6 g

Discussion: This finger-ring fits into a small group of early medieval finger-rings with applied cloisonné panels inlaid with enamel, and hoops decorated with filigree and / or granulation. Examples recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database include LON-3478C7 (Morden area, Essex), FAKL-6C1815 (West Acrew, Norfolk) while another, found in Ireland, is held by the V&A Museum (4917-1901). The Stagsden finger-ring differs in its more massive form, the diamond-shaped as opposed to circular cloisonné setting, and being made from copper alloy rather than gold. These rings have been dated to between the later ninth and tenth centuries. Another gilded copper alloy ring with an enamelled cloisonné setting is currently under review on the PAS database (LON-A2FD02). Its setting is also not circular, but square.

Decoration in the form of plain gold wire tendrils with granules in the terminals can be paralleled on metalwork of a similar period e.g. a so-called 'aestel' from Harrogate, North Yorkshire (PAS database SWYOR-69C958); plain wire and granulation also appear on a pendant from Monkton, Kent (PAS database KENT-8EC696) and a finger-ring from Osyth, Essex (PAS database ESS-FA05C2).

The cloisonné setting alone is gold, while the collar surrounding it and the wire decoration flanking appear to be gilded copper alloy. Under a microscope, it is possible to see where gilding has come away from the top of the wire work, probably through damage and wear, so that gilding only remains on each side of the wire which would have been more protected. Similar signals characterise the granules set within the tendrils.

Date: Later ninth to tenth century

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Declared Treasure but returned to Finder as Museum unable to acquire

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2014T958


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Subperiod to: Late
Date from: Circa AD 850
Date to: Circa AD 1000

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 18 mm
Weight: 11.6 g
Diameter: 28 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 26th October 2014

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2014T958

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Gold
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Inlaid with enamel

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Bedford (Unitary Authority)
District: Bedford (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Stagsden

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: BH
Created: 7 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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