NMGW-64D499: Late Medieval gold finger-ring

Rights Holder: National Museum Wales
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Unique ID: NMGW-64D499

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Gold iconographic finger-ring of late medieval or very early post-medieval date. It has a flat oval longitudinal bezel, engraved with the images of St Catherine holding a sword in her right hand. 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 Hour') in black-letter script, between sprigs.

The rough surface of the background to the bezel suggest that this may have been enamelled, but only cleaning of this area and the decorative shoulders will confirm whether this was once the case.
The object, which has a very abraded surface and bent hoop, has not undergone any cleaning or conservation. The design shows some damage. It weighs 7.42g.

In terms of size and design, the object is an example of a medieval religious (iconographic) ring. Comparison with other rings indicates that it is probably late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century in date. The forms of the 'b' and 'e' resemble those found on seals dated c.1425-1525 (Kingsford 1929, 166, 168).

Other iconographic rings found in Wales include a gold ring with the emblem of the Trinity reported to have been found near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire (sold to a private collection in December 1984; Cherry & Redknap 1992, 122), and a ring engraved with the image of Mary and the motto en boen an from Buckwell Farm, Pencaemawr near Usk.

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'; Dalton 1912, no. 767), en boen an ('In Good Year' ibid, no. 761), sans de partir ('Never to part'). 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 (Dalton 1912, no. 759).

The inscription does not appear in the photograph. It has been suggested as a variation of cor (heart, spelled in various ways e.g. cuer on another late medieval iconographic ring; Dalton 1912, no. 742). On the analogy of examples using an (year) it may well be eure as equivalent to modern French "heure", with the phrase meaning 'in a good hour', i.e. 'at a propitious moment' or similar. The Anglo-Norman Dictionary (under 'ure') glosses the phrase 'a bon ure' as "propitiously". It perhaps refers to a proposal being made when the ring was proffered.

Class: Iconographic
Inscription: ·en∙boen∙eure∙

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Submitted for consideration as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2014TW29


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod to: Late
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1465
Date to: Circa AD 1540

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 7.42 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 10th December 2014

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Mark Redknap
Identified by: Mr Mark Lodwick
Secondary identifier: Dr Malcolm Jones

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2014TW29

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Wales (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Pembrokeshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Pembrokeshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Llandissilio West (Community)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SN1221
Four figure Latitude: 51.85583902
Four figure longitude: -4.73131662
1:25K map: SN1221
1:10K map: SN12SW
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NMGW
Created: 2 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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