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Ring found in Bridgnorth reveals a wealth of facts

Oswestry | News | Published:

A ring and hook thought to be more than 500 years old were found in Shropshire, an inquest heard.

An expert from the British Museum said the two items found in Bridgnorth, which would have been owned by "high-status people", showed the wealth of some folk in the area hundreds of years ago.

Both the ring and hook were declared as treasure at an inquest held in Shirehall.

Speaking after the inquest, Peter Reavill, finds liaison officer for British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme, said: "Although not found together, these two very fine late Tudor or Stuart artefacts show the material wealth of some residents of the Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth area.

"Both finds would both have been owned by high-status people who would display their money through the objects they owned and displayed around their person."

The first item, a gilded, silver dress hook or hat hook, was found on November 30 last year.

The hook is 12.9 millimetres in length, with a head diameter of 12.8 mm and a weight of two grams.

Mr Reavill said: "The Tudor dress hook or hat hook is an exceptionally fine example – functionally it would have held swags of cloth together but it's shape and form show considerable workmanship."

The gold ring was found on March 8 and while it was originally circular in shape, it is now sub circular because of soil pressure. Inside, the ring has the inscription "* MY + HART + IS + YOVRES" and weighs 1.4g.

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Mr Reavill said: "The finger-ring is known as a posy or posie ring.

"The motto hidden inside was for the wearer's benefit – my heart is yours – held next to the skin and so hidden from view.

"The exterior surface of diamond-shape hollows may have held enamel and again shows considerable workmanship.

"It is hoped, once these finds are valued, that they will be acquired by Much Wenlock Museum to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike."

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Coroner John Ellery declared that because both items are than 300 years old and contain more than 10 per cent precious metal content, they would be declared treasure.

The items will now be valued by the Department for Culture Media and Sport treasure valuation committee based at the British Museum.

The value will be shared with the landowner, finder and museum. If all are happy, the museum will be given three months to raise the cost which is passed to the finder and landowner.

Shropshire museums have expressed an interest in acquiring the two finds for display in Much Wenlock.

The find comes after it was revealed earlier this month how 86-year-old metal detecting enthusiast Cliff Massey struck gold more than once on the same plot of land.

Mr Massey found a medieval coin hoard of three gold and 25 silver medieval coins on a farm in Bronington, near Whitchurch, on November 24, 2013, and March 16 last year. That came after he found 14 similar silver coins on the same site in 2012.

And in his most recent find last year, the Wrexham metal detectorist also uncovered a decorative gold ring thought to date back to 1465 with a hexagonal bezel containing a shaped and polished blue sapphire.

Landowner Ifor Edwards, 58, said he couldn't believe Mr Massey and his friend Peter Walpole had found buried treasure so many times in his field.

All the discoveries actually began with Mr Edwards losing his keys and calling the metal detectorists in.

The coins were identified as between the reigns of Edward III, Richard II and Henry VI while three pennies are still uncertain. The earliest coins of Edward I or II and Edward III – all struck between 1280 and 1377 – are "considerably worn" through circulation.

But the Henry VI coins struck between 1422 and 1461, are mostly unworn and all 28 coins are thought to form a single hoard, which is believed to have been lost or deposited after 1465.

Meanwhile, amateur metal detectorist Chris Langston made the find of a lifetime when he uncovered a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age axe head in his back garden in Oswestry.

Mr Langston took up the hobby six months ago and has already found a coins from the time of Georges I, II and III, as well as buckles, tap keys and silver love tokens engraved with initials.

While Mr Langston said the axe could be worth up to £700, he said he has no intention of selling it.

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