Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Ring found in field 'may be royal'

Archaeologists say the Escrick Ring is likely to be from the 5th or 6th century (York Museums Trust/PA)
Archaeologists say the Escrick Ring is likely to be from the 5th or 6th century (York Museums Trust/PA)
A sapphire ring found in a field near the village of Escrick may have been owned by royalty (York Museums Trust/PA)

A sapphire ring found in a field by a metal detecting enthusiast is probably much older than originally thought and may have been owned by royalty, according to group of experts convened to examine the object.

Archaeologists say the Escrick Ring is likely to be from the 5th or 6th century, and nothing like it from that period has ever been found in the UK before.

The expert group, convened by the Yorkshire Museum in York, believes the ring could have royal connections.

Curator of archaeology at the museum Natalie McCaul said: "What this workshop has shown is that this sapphire ring is even more special than we had previously thought. Nothing like it has been found in this country from the 5th or 6th century."

The ring was found by metal detectorist Michael Greenhorn, from York and District Metal Detecting Club, in 2009 as he searched a field near the village of Escrick, south of York.

It measures around 2.5cm across and is intricately made of gold, prestige glass and a large sapphire.

The initial assessment of its origin was that it was likely to be Anglo-Saxon or Viking, from the 10th or 11th century. Now the expert group has dated it to a much earlier period.

They have also suggested the ring was made in Europe, possibly France, and that it would have belonged to a king, leader or consort - not a bishop which was a previous theory. The wear on the ring also suggests that it could have been a brooch first, which was later made into a ring.

"It has been fantastic to hear the thoughts of some of the world's leading experts and their suggestions will allow us to now go away and try and fit the ring into a historical timeframe," Miss McCaul said.

"Hopefully this will lead us to finding out more about the ring and possibly even who might have owned it."

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