Saffron Walden acquires unique Anglo-Saxon ring

A spectacular gold ring dating to around the sixth century has been bought by Saffron Waldon Museum and will go on display in April, thanks to grants from the Art Fund.

Decorated with Anglo-Saxon motifs including birds and interlace ornamentation, the ring has been dated to 580–650 AD. The ring's engraved bezel shows a belted human feature holding a cross beneath a bird of prey, mixing pagan Anglo-Saxon iconography with Christian symbolism.

Known as the 'North-Essex Ring', it will go on permanent display at the museum's archaeology gallery from Saturday 5 April, when staff members will be on hand to talk about the finds and visitors will be able to handle a replica of the ring. Entry to the museum is free with a National Art Pass.

The ring was bought by Saffron Walden Museum Society following a public fundraising appeal, with support from an Art Fund grant and additional donations from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Headley Museums Archaeological Acquisition Fund, the Beecroft Bequest and the Essex Heritage Trust.

A further grant, made through the Art Fund's Treasure Plus scheme, will support the creation of a new permanent showcase at the museum to display the ring alongside other significant discoveries of treasure from the local area, from a hoard of medieval silver coins to a late Tudor gold ring.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: 'This attractive and iconographically intriguing object is an important acquisition for the museum, and one which we are happy to support. We are also very pleased that Saffron Walden Museum is a recipient of a Treasure Plus grant, which will provide a permanent showcase for both the signet ring and other local treasures.'

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