Lord of the Bling: What's on YOUR Finger?

This week's edition of Aoife's Links focuses on jewelry — especially finger rings — of the Middle Ages.

Greetings, my faithful readers!

Recently I and a few other ladies at a small Schola were given the ultimate treat: We were allowed to pick up, try on, admire and goggle at some real medieval jewelry artifacts. The owners of these artifacts were a pair of rather infamous SCAdian brothers and merchants who rarely teach but were happy to show their genuine medieval models and their modern medieval replicas for a small class on historical jewelry. I was in heaven! At one point I had six genuine historical rings on one hand, and I rapidly came to several conclusions:

  1. Medieval fingers were much smaller than mine. I was lucky to get these adult rings onto my first finger joints, and though I am a tall woman, I have medium-sized hands.
  2. Much of what jewelry is sold as medieval out in the real world is actually more fantasy or the dreaded "medieval inspired".
  3. I love medieval rings.

Therefore, this Links List is dedicated to the Medieval finger-ring and related items. As always, feel free to pass this Links List along to those who will find it interesting!

Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon, CL,CP
Riverouge, Endless Hills, Aethelmearc

Medieval Bronze Rings (Note slow loading due to looping music track)
http://www.thehonourablecompany.com/medieval/med.htm A merchant's site, with six images of extant medieval rings

Glitz Queen: Medieval Room
(Site Excerpt) Medieval Gold & Cabochon Ruby Ring. It must've been brand-new when someone dropped it, for this ring was recovered from English earth in perfect condition centuries later. At least five centuries later, since it was made before goldmarking began.

Cronaca: Sixth Grader Fins Viking Ring

Viking Ring, Gold/Silver
(Site Excerpt) Reduplicate of jewelry from the Viking Age found at excavations in Nar (Gotland Island, Southeast Sweden). The item weighs about 6.4 g (0.225 oz.).

Mirabilis.ca : Mystery of Biggest Viking Gold Ring
(Site Excerpt) The biggest Viking gold ring ever found in the British Isles has been discovered among the belongings of a York man following his death. Mystery surrounds the origins of the 324.6 gram arm ring, which has excited experts, one of whom called the find "fantastic".

Saxon Rings for Sale
(very long URL hidden here; click to visit —ed.)

Builder Finds Anglo-Saxon Gold Ring During Tea Break
An Oxfordshire builder went to a friend's house to help dig a patio and came away having uncovered a 1,400-year-old gold ring. Decorated with a cross and four glass beads, the Anglo-Saxon ring has now been declared as Treasure by an Oxfordshire coroner and is awaiting valuation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

An Anglo-Saxon Runic Ring
(Site Excerpt) A finger-ring with an inscription in English runes was uncovered, according to the only available report, in August/September 1993, during the digging of a foundation trench for a house at Wheatley Hill, some 14 kilometres east of Durham. The ring had apparently been cleaned, and this, together with certain curiosities in its design and legend, encouraged the British Museum authorities to have it carefully examined by their Department of Scientific Research. The conclusion was that the ring and text were genuine, and the piece is now the property of the British Museum, accession no. 1995,9-2,1.

Anglo-Saxon Braided Gold Ring
(Site Excerpt) Of utmost simplicity and surprising modernity, this Saxon ring consists of two twisted wires plaited together and hammered at the back. The gold content is extremely high, and the ring is very soft.

Medieval Jewelry
(Site Excerpt) A large proportion of gold used in late medieval production was recycled gold: goldsmiths used ancient coins, jewelry, or other gold objects as their raw material. In the High Middle Ages, the previously produced gold stock of Europe was primarily accumulated in the court of the Byzantine emperors; consequently, little gold was circulated in the Western world.

Stefan's Florilegium: Medieval Jewelry
(Site Excerpt from ONE message in the file) ...First I would point out that there were times in some cultures where no one but the royal family could wear gold or silver jewelry (France for a while or two comes to mind, see "7000 Years of Jewelry").

Personal Ornaments of Ancient Ireland
(Site Excerpt) Among the high classes the custom of wearing rings and bracelets of gold, silver, and findruine (white bronze) on the fore-arm, wrist, and fingers - including the thumb - was universal, and is mentioned everywhere in ancient Irish literature.

Ashmole Museum: The Thame Hoard
(Site Excerpt) The five rings contained within the Thame Hoard are all made of gold. Three of them include stones believed to have magical properties. Ring b is set with a peridot, ring c with a toadstone and ring d with turquoise.

Jewelry from the Thetford Treasure--Late 17th Century England
(very long URL hidden here, click to visit —ed.)
(Apologies for the excessively long URL--please copy-paste to be sure you get it all))

6,000 Years of Helenic Jewelry
Click on a menuitem to view a photo and description

Victoria and Albert Museum: William Wytlesey's ring
(very long URL hidden here; click to visit —ed.)
(Site Excerpt) This ring belonged to William Wytlesey, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1362 and 1374. It is said to have been found in his tomb.

Jewelry as a messanger of culture between people
A selective history of goldsmithing

ww.historiska.se (Stockholm) : The Burge Hoard

Historical Museum of Gotland: Hoards from the Medieval Period and later (See also late and early viking eras)
(very long URL hidden here; click to visit —ed.)
(Site Excerpt) The Dune hoard is the largest and most opulent medieval hoard ever unearthed in northern Europe. The number of objects is no less than 122, some of which display an exceptionally high quality of craftsmanship. The hoard contains characteristic objects from more or less every decade from appr. 1100 to 1382. The latter date is marked by a small brooch made out of a coin minted for the Teutonic Order's Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode, 1351-1382.

finger-rings-msg from 7/10/02 Medieval finger rings
Forum post on http://www.florilegium.org/
(click accessories on the right and then finger-rings on the left. Site Excerpt from one message) "...Being a professional jeweler, I get asked this question frequently. I usually give people a short extract on love and marriage rings from an excellent book called An Introduction to Rings by Shirley Bury, who is the Keeper, Department of Metalwork for the Victoria and Albert Museum."

If you wish to correspond with Aoife directly, please send mail to: mtnlion at ptd dot net.