OXON-9A2E11: Post-medieval finger ring: Mourning ring

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
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Unique ID: OXON-9A2E11

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

TREASURE CASE 2019 T256. Description: A complete but damaged gold 'momento mori' finger ring dating to the post-medieval period. The finger ring as a circular, D-sectioned hoop which is engraved on both shoulders with scrolled floral motifs and sprays.The motifs are highlighted by a background of black enamel. The finger ring has a raised circular clear rock-crystal or glass insert, faceted and set within a crenelated gold clasp. The glass of the bezel is cracked and damaged. Beneath the glass is an inscription sewn in gold wire onto a black background; the broken glass obscures much of the lettering but it is either the initials of a name; ' J A [...]' or it may be part of a date of death '(...)9'?. The lettering is set within a decorative border of gold thread arranged in continuous circular motifs. The underside of the bezel has multiple raised ribs, the indentations between which are inlaid with black enamel with a single white enamel dot.

Date: AD 1680-1720.

Dimensions: 16.9mm internal diameter, 11.2mm wide, 3.7 grams.

Discussion: The inscription, textile setting, and use of black enamel indicate that this object is a mourning ring. Mourning rings became popular mementos of deceased loved ones in Britain in the 17th century. They served to commemorate specific individuals and often included compartments underneath the bezel for locks of the individual's hair, sometimes decoratively woven and braided in a practice called hairwork. A number of similar rings have been reported to the PAS as Treasure, these include LVPL-4375BC, BERK-B28F95 and NCL-FFE147. An almost identical ring is recorded as SF-B15FDB (treasure case 2019 T80). There are also examples in public collections, the most similar currently found being a piece in the VA (acc. no. M.95-1913). All of these examples are dated to the late 17th or early 18th century, c. 1680-1720.

Conclusion: The object contains more than 10% precious metal and is likely to be over 300 years old. Consequently, it qualifies as Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996 in terms of both age and precious metal content.


It has been recorded as part of a rally and export archive. Rally ticket Y201.

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Class: Mourning

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: FLO
Subsequent action after recording: Submitted for consideration as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2019T256


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1680
Date to: Circa AD 1720

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 12 mm
Width: 11.2 mm
Weight: 3.7 g
Diameter: 16.9 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 24th November 2018

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: OXPAS2019.088
Treasure case number: 2019T256

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Secondary material: Glass
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Floral
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Oxfordshire (County)
District: West Oxfordshire (District)
To be known as: Leafield

Spatial coordinates

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

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: FLO
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: OXON
Created: 3 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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