Mars ring donated to North Lincolnshire Museum

The Roman collections at North Lincolnshire Museum have been enhanced through the kind donation by the finder and landowner of a fine silver finger ring found at Scawby.

The silver ring (see it here on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database) dates to the later 1st or early 2nd Century AD and was discovered close to the line of Ermine Street. The silver ring is set with a carnelian intaglio, carved into which is an image of the god Mars, wearing a helmet and carrying a spear and a military trophy.

scawby mars ring

Finger ring from Scawby. Image copyright North Lincolnshire Museum

scawby mars ring intaglio

Scawby ring intaglio. Image copyright North Lincolnshire Museum

Mars was a particularly flexible deity who could be approached in a number of guises (see for example his worship as an agricultural god in Lincolnshire here), but this depiction is known as ‘Mars Gradivus‘ and represents the god leading an army to war. It is therefore a military invocation of Mars, and the earlier Roman date and findspot close to Ermine Street might indicate that this ring was originally the possession of someone in the military.

This is not the only depiction of Mars Gradivus from Lincolnshire nor, lovely though it is, is it the finest. The ‘Fossdyke Mars’ – a beautiful copper alloy statuette discovered in the Fossdyke in the 19th Century and now in the British Museum – takes that crown. That statuette was dedicated, as evidenced by the inscription on the base, by Bruccius and Caratius Colasunus and made by a bronzesmith called Celatus.

fossdyke mars

The ‘Fossdyke Mars’. Image copyright The British Museum

The Scawby finger ring is nevertheless a fantastic find and it is wonderful to know that it will be available for future research and display at North Lincolnshire Museum.

You can read more about the god Mars in Lincolnshire in my previous post Rider gods of Roman Lincolnshire.


Thanks to the Treasure team at the British Museum (@TRegistrar) for their tweet about this donation.

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