Lost Roman Earring Found In Leicestershire

By David Prudames | 21 August 2003
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Shows a photo of a gold ring with a knot shape in it.

Photo: was this gold earring dropped one day by a wealthy Roman lady? Courtesy Leicestershire County Council.

A Roman earring discovered behind a hedge in Leicestershire is one of three intriguing pieces of gold jewellery unearthed by metal detectorists and acquired by the local council.

All three items were handed in to the council's Finds Liason Officer and, following an inquest, finds were bought by Leicestershire County Council's Heritage Service.

Peter Liddle, Keeper of Archaeology at Leicestershire County Council, explained how the earring particularly captured his imagination.

"The Roman gold earring is a fairly standard thing, but it's the fact that something like this is a personal item," said Peter.

Shows a close up photograph of a thick, heavy-looking gold finger ring.

Photo: though to have been made on the continent, this elaborate finger ring probably belonged to a man. Courtesy Leicestershire County Council.

"It is a nice link with the past and you can imagine a Roman person dropping it and looking for it. It's a nice little addition that allows a link with an actual person from the past."

Found in Peckleton, the piece is of a very simple design, although it was most likely owned by a wealthy Roman lady.

In contrast is a gold finger ring found in nearby Rotherby. Large, heavy and elaborate in design, it was probably worn by a man, though quite who he was is the subject of some debate.

As Peter Liddle explained, the item was found on a site known to local experts to have been occupied by Romans. However, when it was sent off to the British Museum, the word came back that it was probably from the tenth century AD and had been made on the continent.

Shows a close up photograph of a gold finger ring with an iron setting.

Photo: a medieval find, this finger ring is unusual in that it contains an iron setting, possibly a charm to ward off evil spirits. Courtesy Leicestershire County Council.

"It is a bit of a mystery why something from the continent at that time should turn up in the middle of the Leicestershire countryside," said Peter.

Adding that it dated back to around the time when there may have been a Viking settlement in that area, he said "You do wonder if we might be looking at something from a hairy Viking hand!"

The third ring was found in Waltham on the Wolds and comes from the later medieval period, but is equally mysterious and, with an unusual iron setting, seems to have its own story to tell.

"It could have belonged to somebody who'd made their money from iron and wished to demonstrate that, or there is something more ritualistic about it," said Peter. "It could be that it's to do with witchcraft, maybe a sort of magic, ritual significance to ward off evil spirits."

It is hoped that in time all three items will join larger collections in the region's museums. Both finger rings have already been earmarked for Melton Carnegie Museum.

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