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English Civil War Crystal and Gold Ring Discovered on the Isle of Man

English Civil War Crystal and Gold Ring Discovered on the Isle of Man

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A beautiful crystal and gold ring, discovered by metal detectorist Lee Morgan in December 2020 on the Isle of Man, has been declared a treasure dated to the Civil War Era. The Civil War (or what Marxist historians call the English Revolution) occurred in the middle of the 17th century AD in England, between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists. The Isle of Man coroner of inquests, Mrs. Jayne Hughes, was the one to make the fated declaration regarding this unique and beautiful ring. The ring is now in the possession of Manx National Heritage (MNH).

Isle of Man Ring Treasure and the Seventh Earl of Derby

The ring is 21.5 millimeters (0.8 inches) in diameter and made from gold. It has an inset crystal stone 12 millimeters (0.5 inches) in diameter. Two initials in gold letters, J and D, are present on the outer surface of the ring. Each groove is decorated with an engraved leaf and black enamel.

The stunning ring is believed to be from the Stuart period (1603-1714). It was probably a mourning ring that was distributed at a funeral. It was a common cultural practice to commemorate the deceased by honoring and inscribing their initials.

Metal detectorist Lee Morgan found the ring in December 2020 on the Isle of Man. (Dave Kneale / Isle of Man Newspapers )

According to Allison Fox, Curator for Archaeology at Manx National Heritage:

“The ring is small and quite delicate in form, but of a high quality and intact. The quality suggests that it was made for, or on behalf of, an individual of high status. It is unlikely that we will be able to establish for certain who owned the ring or whom it commemorated, but there is a possibility that it may have been associated with the Stanley family, previously Lords of Man. The initials JD may refer to James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby and Lord of Man, a supporter of the Royalist cause in the Civil War . Letters and documents from the time show that he signed his named as J Derby, so the initials JD would be appropriate for him.”

James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, may have been the deceased person for whom the mourning ring was made. The Isle of Man was part of his fiefdom. (The Frick Collection / Public domain)

James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, may have been the deceased person for whom the mourning ring was made. The Isle of Man was part of his fiefdom. (The Frick Collection / Public domain )

Stanley was a feudal lord on the Isle of Man, known commonly as Lord Baron Strange, before he inherited the title of the 7 th Earl of Derby in 1642. His support for the Royalist cause cost him his life, as the Parliamentarians executed him in 1651.

His wife probably wanted his name and legacy to continue, and thus shared the ring at his funeral. At Bolton Market Cross at Churchgate, there is a historic spot in his memory which reads, “1651. James, Seventh Earl of Derby. Beheaded near this spot.”

Incidentally, this is Morgan’s third discovery of treasure on the island located between England and Ireland, the Isle of Man. In 2013, he unearthed a hoard of silver coins dated to 1320 AD, and in 2019 a silver ingot dating to the 11 th century AD.

A closeup of the Civil War era crystal and gold mourning ring discovered by metal detectorist Lee Morgan. (Manx National Heritage)

A closeup of the Civil War era crystal and gold mourning ring discovered by metal detectorist Lee Morgan. ( Manx National Heritage )

The Isle of Man and Treasure

Previously in February 2020, another metal detectorist by the name of Kath Giles, a retired police officer, discovered a thousand-year-old gold and silver Viking jewelry collection . This too was declared a treasure.

In fact, the Isle of Man is home to several Viking hoards , as it was part of the Viking-ruled Kingdom of the Isles. This makes it a perfect destination for historians, metal detectorists and curious treasure hunters.

Allison added that, “Public finds, such as those found by metal-detectorists, walkers and farmers make an immense contribution to our knowledge of the archaeology and history of the Isle of Man. MNH would like to formally thank both the finder and the landowner for their assistance with this unique find”.

There is a legal requirement that places the onus on the finder (of any item on the Isle of Man) to report it to the Manx National Heritage. The ring will be put on display at the Manx Museum after being scrutinized under the watchful eye of a committee that specializes in antiques.

Top image: The most recent Isle of Man treasure, found by a known metal detectorist, is this exceptional crystal and gold mourning ring.              Source: Manx National Heritage

By Sahir Pandey

References

BBC. 2021. Gold ring from Civil War era unearthed in Manx field. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-56802830.

Geggel, L. 2021. 370 year-old gold ring may have honoured beheaded earl. https://www.livescience.com/gold-ring-english-civil-war.html.

IOMT. 2021. The 350 year old gold ring found in south of Island. Available at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/article.cfm?id=61560&headline=The%20350-year-old%20civil%20war%20ring%20found%20in%20south%20of%20island&sectionIs=NEWS&searchyear=2021.

MNH. 2021. Civil war era crystal and gold ring declared treasure. Available at: https://manxnationalheritage.im/news/civil-war-era-crystal-and-gold-ring-declared-treasure/

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