My Precious—Ancient Ring That Inspired Tolkien’s The Hobbit Found In The U.K.


The ring that inspired Tolkien in writing the trilogy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, exists and has behind its steps a mysterious story full of curses dating from Roman times.

During the Rule of the Roman Empire over Britain, elite citizens of the time flaunted their status by wearing peculiar rings.

Now, after looking at a set of Brancaster rings, which scientists have dated to the fourth and fifth centuries, researchers have found numerous clues about their owners, who lived during the last days of Roman rule over Britain.

As noted by the University of Newcastle, a Brancaster ring is a type of signet ring with a characteristic square or rectangular bezel, inscribed with characters or text. The rings are named after the Roman Fort and Norfolk village where the first example was discovered in the mid-19th century.

Ancient Ring
My Precious: This is the ancient gold ring, believed to have inspired JRR Tolkien Image Credit: National Trust/PA

Experts discovered that the metal used in their construction, just as the images imprinted on them give off numerous details about their owners, who were members of high society in Britain.

One of the rings, in particular, the cursed Silvianus Ring is believed to have been the source and inspired J.R.R. Tolkien as he was writing the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The so-called Silvanius ring was discovered near Silchester, in Hampshire, England, in 1785. The Ring belonged to a member of a Roman high society called Silvianus but was stolen by a person named Senicianus, upon whom Silvianus called down a curse: ‘To the god Nodens: Silvianus has lost his ring and promises half its value to Nodens. Among those named Senecianus, let none enjoy health until he brings it back to the temple of Nodens.’

In a recent archaeological mission, experts from the universities of Oxford and Newcastle have gathered 54 rings that exist in the United Kingdom and cataloged them all for the first time. Most of the 54 rings were made from silver and only a small number of gold.

Ancient Roman Ring
Image Credit: Portable Antiquities Scheme 

In addition to being used as jewelry, the rings were used in ancient times with wax to seal letters and other important documents.

The various rings are unique, mostly made of precious metal and engraved with different designs. Some bare the symbol of soldiers, lovers, and even emperors.

However, some rings feature evidence of incredible Roman Art, as experts have discovered that some rings have intricate designs such as dolphins and mythical sea creatures, as well as sea griffins which have been found frequently in Roman Art.

Speaking about the Rings, Dr. James Gerrard, senior lecturer in Roman archaeology at Newcastle, said: ‘The fifth century was a period of major upheaval and marked the start of the transition from Roman Empire to Anglo Saxon Britain. These rings and their inscriptions provide a glimpse of what Britain was like during these years and give an insight into the dress, beliefs, ideologies and education level of the elite at the time.


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3 Comments

  1. Tolkien was a professor of Germanic studies and based the ring on the Andvaranaut, the cursed ring of Fafnir the dragon’s hoard from the Volsunga Saga.

    1. Elements unique to Wagner’s Ring and similar to Motte-Fouque’s Magic Ring fantasy trilogy both released long before Tolkien wrote anything were used by Tolkien as well.

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