A gold medieval ring, a silver finger band and Roman soldiers' pay: The new archaeological treasures of Wales

By Ben Miller | 26 November 2015

Medieval metalwork and daily pay for Roman soldiers reflected in new archaeological treasures

A photo of a gold archaeological ring found in Wales
This late 15th century gold coin was found in the Vale of Glamorgan. It has now been declared treasure© Museum Wales
A gold decorative ring with a repeating pattern of alternating half-flowers, filling triangular panels and separated by a deep zig-zag moulding, has been declared treasure alongside an engraved silver finger ring two years after they were found in the Vale of Glamorgan.

David Harrison found the pair of medieval rings in Llancarfan in December 2013. Dark materials in the design of the silver band show the niello it was inlaid with.

“These are finger rings from different centuries - one 12th century [silver] and the other 15th century,” says Dr Mark Redknap, from National Museum Wales’ Department of History and Archaeology.

A photo of a silver archaeological ring found in Wales
The silver finger ring is a decorated band tapering away from bezel© Museum Wales
Despite being left scattered by ploughing, museum staff were able to lift intact the hoard of 91 denarii pieces, buried in a locally-made pot and dating from AD 54-68 – the reign of Emperor Nero – to as late as 164, when Marcus Aurelius ruled.

“They reflect different traditions of fine metalworking, which are important indicators of changing fashions in south Wales during the medieval period.”

A hoard of roman silver coins, discovered by metal detectorists Richard Annear and John Player in Wick a year later, have also been protected by the coroner.

A photo of a partially excavated archaeological coin hoard
The Wick hoard partially excavated in the laboratory© Museum Wales
“Each coin represents about a day’s pay at the time, so the hoard represents a significant sum of money,” says Edward Besly, a numismatist at the museum.

“The hoard’s find spot is only a mile as the crow flies from that of another second century silver hoard found at Monknash in 2000, which comprised 103 denarii, buried a little earlier, around 150.

A photo of an archaeological roman coin with the head of an emperor engraved in it
One of the coins from the Wick hoard© Portable Antiquities Scheme
“Together, the hoards point to a prosperous coin-using economy in the area in the middle of the second century.”

Three of the coins, issued by Mark Antony in 31 BC, were still in circulation after nearly 200 years.

Newly-declared treasures in Wales

A photo of an archaeological roman coin with the head of an emperor engraved in it
The treasures will be acquired through a Heritage Lottery-funded project© Portable Antiquities Scheme
  • A 15-16th century silver pendant, Penllyn, Vale of Glamorgan

  • A 17th century silver gilt finger ring, Penllyn

  • A 15th-16th century silver finger ring, Llancarfan

  • A 13th-14th century silver brooch, Llancarfan

  • An early 18th century gold finger ring, Rhoose

  • A Late Bronze Age hoard, Penllyn

  • A Late Bronze Age hoard, Pentyrch

  • Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology is at National Museum Cardiff from 26 January – 30 October 2016.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of an archaeological roman coin with the head of an emperor engraved in it
The museum will host a range of gems from popular culture during 2016, which has been designated the Year of Adventure in Wales© Portable Antiquities Scheme
Three places to discover the archaeology of Wales in

Tenby Museum and Art Gallery
Founded in 1878 by a group of "interested gentlemen", this is now the oldest independent museum in Wales. The building is Grade II-listed and situated in part of the old town castle.

Wrexham County Borough Museum and Archives
Originally the barracks for the Royal Denbighshire Militia, this building later became the town's police station and court house. The museum has recently been completely refreshed and redesigned to please modern visitors.

Segontium, Gwynedd
The Segontium Roman fort was an auxiliary fort built by the Romans when they spread their conquest of Britain into Wales, and dates back to 77 AD. Although it was a remote outpost, it is one of the most well-known Roman sites in Britain and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
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