Is this the ring that helped inspire J.R.R. Tolkien to write about the One Ring of Middle Earth? This Roman ring, which is associated with a divine curse, is part of a new exhibition at the Vyne in Hampshire, England, investigating its links to Tolkien and its possible influence on his work.
The Guardian spoke to Dave Green, the property manager at the Vyne, about the ring and its connection to Tolkien. The 12g gold ring was likely originally found in 1785 near Silchester, site of the Iron Age Roman town Calleva Atrebatum, and bears the inscription, in Latin, "Senicianus live well in God."
The ring connects to Tolkien through another archaeological site, Lydney in Gloucestershire, commonly known as "Dwarf's Hill." There, a tablet tells of the curse on Senicianus' ring. According to the tablet, a man named Silvianus tells an obscure deity called Nodens that Senicianus stole his ring. The tablet lays a curse on any bearing the name Senicianus until the thief returns the ring to Nodens' temple.
In 1929, Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler—who connected the tablet with the ring—asked Tolkien to advise him on the name of the god in question. The ring has long languished in obscurity, but now the Vyne is highlighting it, displaying it alongside memorabilia from the Tolkien Society.
Image from the National Trust.
Curse, legend and inspiration at the Vyne [The Vyne]
The Hobbit ring that may have inspired Tolkien put on show [The Guardian via Xenophilia]