Ring (1)


The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Rings engraved with posies or short rhymes were popular from the middle ages. They were described by George Puttenham in the Art of English Poesie in 1589 as 'the shorter the better. We call them posies and do paint them nowadays upon the backsides of our fruit trenchers of wood and so use them as devices in rings and arms and about such courtly purposes'. These posies were often romantic in nature or, as on this ring, called upon God's assistance.

Rings decorated with the figures of saints or with religious invocations were a very common part of medieval life. They testify to the importance of religion in daily life. In a world filled with unexplained dangers, the protection of the saints and God could provide a powerful sense of reassurance. Religious imagery was often combined with romantic inscriptions. It is quite possible that this plain gold ring functioned both as a religious talisman and as a love gift.

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  • Title: Ring (1)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1400/1500
  • Location: England
  • Physical Dimensions: Depth: 0.7 cm, Diameter: 1.9 cm
  • Provenance: Given by Dame Joan Evans
  • Medium: Engraved gold

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