Medieval Ring Depicting God Mars Will Earn Pensioner a Fortune
A British pensioner, who has been a long-term metal detectorist, discovered that he had found a rare medieval ring depicting Roman god Mars forty years ago. He simply put the ring away and forgot about it, until he rediscovered it by accident. He has now learned that the piece of jewelry is almost 700 years old and is believed to be worth a small fortune.
Hansons Auctioneers reports that Tom Clarke (81), a retired leather craftsman, has been an enthusiastic metal detectorist for almost half-a-century. During one session, in 1979, he was investigating some farmland near, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in central England. He found an old ring but did not think that it looked anything special as it was somewhat misshapen and twisted.
Tom had the ring, and a few other items he had found, appraised at a local museum at the time and was told that it had no value. The Daily Telegraph reports that the metal detectorist ‘‘was told they were all fairly modern’’ and not of much value.
Tom put the ring into a tin and placed it in a box in his mother’s house and forgot about it for many years. According to the Daily Telegraph, he rediscovered the ring, in 2011 ‘‘while sorting through items from his mother's house after she passed away’’. He examined the ring once again. Mr. Clark, by now a very experienced metal detectorist, thought that the item could have real historic value.
The metal detectorist estimated that it possibly dated back to medieval times. Fox News quotes the retiree as stating that “I knew straight away it was a seal ring dating back to around 1350’’. This meant it comes from the period when the Black Death was devastating Europe and when England and France were engaged in the 100 Years War.
The stone is a green, semi-precious gem which has an image of the Roman god of war Mars holding a lance and a trophy. It is a seal ring and its image is just deep enough to hold ink.
The ring depicts Roman god Mars holding his lance (CC by SA 2.5)
Hiding the True Message
Tom had the shank of the ring mended and fortunately the head of the ring and its stone were in good condition. The metal detectorist then had the ring re-appraised. He was told that it was of the highest quality gold and probably belonged to a member of the nobility in medieval times. Mr Clark’s hunch after he rediscovered the ring had been right.
The ring has an inscription in Latin, NVNCIE.VERA.TEGO, which translates to “I hide the true message’’ reports the Daily Mirror. The exact meaning of the inscription is unknown. Mark Becher, an expert at Hansons Auctioneers in the UK, speculated that the words “could relate to the role of a seal ring in securing correspondence”.
This is not the first time that an amateur treasure hunter has earned a small fortune by stumbling across a medieval ring. In 2018, a young man unearthed an engraved 20-carot gold ring dating to the medieval period in a farmer’s field in Yorkshire, England.
The ring, also auctioned by Hansons Auctioneers, was a 15 th century bishop’s ring featuring St George, the Patron Saint of England. The ring sold at auction for £7,100 ($8,800).
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The ring, engraved with St George, was found in a field near in Yorkshire. Source: Hansons Auctioneers
Mr. Clark is intrigued by the ring and would love to know who owned it and how it ended up in a farmers’ field.
The ring is set to be auctioned shortly by Hansons Auctioneers. The auctioneers believe that Mr. Clark found a really important and unique piece of medieval jewelry. The 670-year-old ring is expected to fetch between £8,500 ($10,000 dollars) and £10,000 ($12,200). The remarkable discovery shows that it is worth getting a second opinion when it comes to unearthed discoveries.
Top image: Left: The Medieval ring. Right: Tom Clark Credit: Hansons Auctioneers
By Ed Whelan