Decorated with Anglo-Saxon motifs including birds and interlace ornamentation, this spectacular gold signet ring has been dated to AD 580–650.

Significantly, the decorations on the ring are drawn from both Roman-Christian and north European-pagan traditions, speaking of a formative period in early English history when Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were emerging at the same time as Christianity was being introduced from the Continent. The hoop of the ring features a central panel bearing an interlace design, between two panels each containing a pair of birds with crossed wings. Engraved on the bezel, within a rectangular frame of punched dots, is a belted human figure holding a cross-headed staff in one hand and a bird of prey in the other. While the identities of the maker and original owner are unknown, the quality and size of the piece indicate that it is a high-status item, possibly belonging to royalty. It will be exhibited at Saffron Walden Museum as a star treasure, and will be presented in a newly created display thanks to a separate grant given through the Art Fund’s Treasure Plus programme.

Provenance

Found by metal detectorist, Tony Carter, in Saffron Walden, North West Essex, in November 2011.


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