YORYM-FED2E9: Post-Medieval : Finger Ring.

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

A complete gold and glass mourning ring of Post-Medieval date, c.AD 1725-1735.

The ring is circular and the band is D-shaped in cross-section with a plain rectangular bezel set with a rectangular cut faceted transparent glass setting. Beneath the setting is what appears to be a small piece of textile. The outer surface of the band is decorated with a floral motif consisting of four evenly spaced panels of foliage separated by three flowers. The raised floral motif is highlighted by a background of niello. A hallmark is present on the inner surface of the band, to one side of the bezel, but is too worn to be clearly distinguished. London and Edinburgh hallmarks of this period used letters to distinguish individual years, although there is no clear match to the hallmark on this ring. The inner surface of the band is engraved with the inscription "J. Backhouse. ob,t 13, Oct,r 1730, AE. 53".

The ring is 22.4mm in diameter, 24.1mm in height (including the bezel), 3.6mm thick, and weighs 9.1g. The individual remembered by this ring died in late 1730, meaning that the ring must have been inscribed in the years following their death. However, the ring might have been manufactured in the years preceding its inscription. Therefore a date range of c.AD 1725-1735 has been given.

The inscription, textile setting, and use of black niello 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. In this example, however, textile seems to have been used to commemorate the individual instead.

Backhouse was a significant family name in the North-East of England in the 17th-19th centuries, and it is possible that this ring commemorates one of the members of the family. The Backhouse family were Quakers and, in 1774, founded the Backhouse Bank in Darlington, County Durham. Several branches of Backhouse's Bank opened in the North-East, and the bank merged with others including Barclays of London to form what is now Barclays Bank. Several members of the Backhouse family became respected botanists and horticulturalists, and were involved in, among other things, the founding of The Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne in 1829, the establishment of the Backhouse plant nursery in York in 1815, and the excavation of the Teesdale Cave between 1878 and 1888. Less is known about the Backhouse family before the foundation of the Backhouse Bank. More information about the Backhouse family can be found at https://www.backhouserossie.co.uk/backhouse-family/the-backhouse-family/. No record of a J. Backhouse who was born in 1676-1678 and died in 1730 has yet been found, although the names James and Jonathan were both commonly used names in the Backhouse family. Nevertheless, it is possible that this ring could refer to a member of a different Backhouse family.

Similar rings have been recorded on the database as BERK-B28F95, LVPL-11DBC3, and SOM-69A89D.


The Backhouse Rossie Estate: The Backhouse Family, https://www.backhouserossie.co.uk/backhouse-family/the-backhouse-family/, accessed 06/03/2019.

Class: Mourning

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1725
Date to: Circa AD 1735

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 24.1 mm
Thickness: 3.8 mm
Weight: 6.1 g
Diameter: 22.4 mm

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Emily Tilley
Identified by: Miss Emily Tilley

Other reference numbers

Other reference: YMT : E06088

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Secondary material: Glass
Completeness: Complete
Surface Treatment: Inlaid with niello

Spatial metadata

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Harpham (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TA0860
Four figure Latitude: 54.02470345
Four figure longitude: -0.35288456
1:25K map: TA0860
1:10K map: TA06SE
Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 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: YORYM
Created: 3 months ago
Updated: About one month ago

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