This gold finger ring has now been recorded by the British Museum as 15th Century. It has been returned to the owner along with all the necessary documents for authenticity and export etc. It is to be auctioned on 14th/15th March 2013 (Lot. No: 0898) by Timeline Auctions at their auction rooms in, The Swedenborg Hall, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, LONDON, WC1A 2TH CREATION Theory Causes BIRTH of a Ring? Whichever way you look at it Padlocks have, throughout the ages, been regarded as a very powerful Talisman especially in relation to Creation/Birth/Fertility and that symbolism continues on today. The padlock on the bezel has been described as meaning in the Middle Ages, “Steadfastness in Love”. Extract from Treasure report “A medieval finger-ring with a convex hoop set with a bezel in the shape of a padlock, which is soldered on to the hoop of the ring. The shoulders are decorated with irregular panels cross-hatched, probably to receive enamel, with a device that resembles a two-pronged fork with a flame issuing from the centre. The padlock was used in the Middle Ages to signify steadfastness in love. The significance of the decoration on the shoulders is not clear. The finger-ring is gold and dates from the fifteenth century.” Well, that may be the way people regard the custom today and lovers all over the world have been steadily reviving a long and ancient/superstitious practice. This involves scratching their initials onto a padlock and fastening it to a bridge, the key is then thrown away into the water. They also appear on gates and trees from Paris to Prague and Moscow to Rome. Some local authorities are now providing special metal trees for the custom so as to save the locks from damaging historical architecture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_padlocks http://www.buzzfeed.com/mathieus/love-padlocks-invade-the-world-8q4 But actually in the Middle Ages, and the date of this ring is the 15th Century, so over 600 years ago, the symbolism meant a great deal more, perhaps bordering on the occult I am of the opinion that this ring was “made to order”, with a clear intent on making a very powerful statement saying, this is who I am or what I represent/believe in. It was not made to be placed on display in a jeweller’s window for customers to browse and choose. The exact reason why it was made, and what it is meant to symbolise, may never be known and I completely understand the BM’s reluctance to speculate and generalise as they only usually deal in factuality. However, that does not mean that I cannot express a contextual opinion. And it certainly does not excuse the BM’s description of this ring as though it had just popped out of a Christmas cracker. The find was made in context on a ploughed out site of an Archbishop’s Palace, and under the Code of Practice of the Treasure Act, also to protect the landowner, that is all I can say regarding the location. It was also a well-defended site and so presumably the general public and normal riff-raff such as myself would only be allowed access to do the dirty work. The ring was found well within the boundaries of the defences so it can be presumed that any losses of gold items, or precious valuables, would be from the clergy, whether Archbishops or their lower staff. It could of course have also been lost by Nellie Barraclough perhaps whilst out dallying with one of the guards on a warm summer evening. You are free to form an opinion of your own. I must be fair though. George Neville became Archbishop of York in 1465 and held a feast at Cawood Castle. The Earl of Warwick, the Archbishop's brother, aided in the preparation of the feast and is said to have wanted a feast larger than the King's coronation feast. Guests included the Duke of Gloucester, the King’s brother. The feast lasted several days and became known as the "Great Feast of Cawood" due to the size of it. Records from the feast show that a substantial quantity of food was consumed, including 104 oxen, 6 wild bulls, 400 swans, 1000 capons and 104 peacocks; 25,000 gallons of wine were consumed with the meals. Now you can bet your bottom dollar that Nellie would not have had an invite to that party. There would of course have been very large numbers of the nobility of England present along with their wives and girlfriends and all of them would have been wearing their best bits of jewelry. Bye the way, this ring was not found anywhere near to Cawood, I am only trying to convey the large numbers of people who would have been present at these sumptuous gatherings.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawood_Castle There are references in the book ‘Locks from Iran by Parviz Tanavoli and John T Wertime, 1976’ descriptions of locks when used as Talismans, amulets and charms. http://www.oldlocks.com/book_reviews/Iran/locks.htm The authors talk about how they are worn next to the body by girls seeking a suitor. “ At sunset the girls would go to the nearest street corner and ask the first sayyid (descendant of Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam) who passes to come and open the lock so that their luck will no longer remain thwarted and, in particular, so that they will marry a sayyid.” Once a suitor has been found the lock is ritually repeatedly opened and closed, and finally and with purpose locked not to be opened until the wedding night. Another custom when pregnant was for the women to gather in the presence of a mullah. Seven knots are tied in a fine cord, whilst the Ya Sin (chapter 36) is read from the Koran. Each time a knot is tied it is blown upon, the cord is then threaded through a padlock and not removed until the ninth month. This it’s said is to give protection during confinement. This artefact seems to fit all three of these rituals and would have been treasured by the owner for the powerful and symbolic power it represented. With this example if the ring was made in this way to depict Love, then it could have been to symbolise the Archbishop’s marriage to the Virgin Mary/Church or Christ. With the decoration on the shoulders replacing the knotted cord, and the red enamel representing the blood of Christ. Parts of these customs/rituals could conceivably have crossed faiths – especially when thinking of the Spanish/Italian and French influence mingling with the Islamic culture around the Mediterranean area. Later being dropped from the Christian beliefs when the barbaric persecutions such as the witch trials began. Clergy who held this power were also to be feared. Kings sometimes bowed to their requests and opinions, but even the clergy would not be seen wearing such things when the Witchfinder General was on the prowl. You only have to look at the absolute sway that has been held over the population of Ireland, and which has only recently been broken, to realize that their power continued into modern times. This belief is still present in many countries and another instance of people in high places holding down the uneducated masses is the story of a Nigerian woman, reportedly pregnant for fifteen years and then giving birth to two padlocks. http://www.gatewaynigeria.tv/relocate/2010/12/strange-birth-woman-delivers-%E2%80%98twin%E2%80%99-padlocks-in-nigeria/ Another example of this ring working symbolically is if it was made to depict CREATION or in other words, the BIRTH of the world. The following is an extract from Genesis at the end of the first three chapters, after the creation. – Yahweh God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, lest he put forth his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever...” 3:23Therefore Yahweh God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 3:24So he drove out the man; and he placed Cherubs at the east of the Garden of Eden, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. In this example the design on both shoulders of the ring would depict the flame of a sword, guarding the way to the padlock, which in turn represents the Garden of Eden - the birth of the world. The ring would again have been worn as an Episcopal ring symbolising the Archbishops marriage to God. Hold the photo sideways with the padlock to the top and the image of a flaming sword can clearly be seen. It could also perhaps be interpreted as incense issuing from a burner rising to heaven. With the red enamel again representing the blood of Christ, which in turn would fit nicely with the representation of being Born Again through the New Testament. I wish that I was a Theologian. Perhaps a theologian could work it out. At least I can say that my enthusiasm has been a little more than others. For whatever reason, or whoever, placed the order for this ring it has, thankfully, survived intact and is now a very unique object. There are many and varied examples of precious stone rings, but I can find no references to another ancient ring bearing a similar bezel. It may not bear a precious stone but to me it is an absolutely stunning Gem of a ring. There is within the cross hatching on the shoulders a reddish hue which was much more pronounced when the ring was first recovered. I believe that red enamel was keyed into the ring by the cross hatching and I have taken the liberty to re-touch some of the pictures to show how it may have looked, or how it could look again with some expert restoration. Amen to that.