The history of a stolen Roman ring and its discovery in the 18th century are the subject of a recent feature article in History Today by Lynn Forest-Hill, fellow of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton, theorizing that the ring may have been the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien. (photos)
The 4th century, gold, Roman ring was the subject of discussion between archaeologist and philosopher from Oxford, R.G. Collingwood, and his colleague at the university, J.R.R. Tolkien. The ring is believed to have been stolen from a Roman named Silvianus who had visited a bath at the temple of Nodens in Lydney in Gloucestershire. Silvianus subsequently cursed Senicianus, who he believed stole the ring. The thief then inscribed the stolen treasure with the words: "Senicianus, may you live in God." Tolkien is credited with having helped Collingwood with Celtic philology. Forest-Hill also contends that Lydney might have been the inspiration for the Shire.