A gold ring with possible Christian symbolism from a Roman trader’s house

One of the joys of museum stores is that you never know what might be inside the next box you open. Could it be an incredibly rare and beautiful preserved work of art? Could it be environmental samples? Thankfully, the box I opened earlier today brought me face to face with a fascinating object that I wasn’t aware of, but would like to share with you here. Continue reading

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Portable healing? Snake jewellery in Roman Lincolnshire

Items of jewellery represent some of the most attractive finds from Roman Britain, and the wide variety of forms of brooches, rings and bracelets can tell us much about changing fashions and clothing styles. Some jewellery, however, is more than simply practical or decorative, and it is one such form that I wish to look at the Lincolnshire evidence for here – the fascinating phenomenon of finger rings and bracelets bearing snake imagery. Continue reading

Offerings for the smith god? Vulcan finger rings from Lincolnshire

Of all of the depictions of deities from Roman Britain, finger ring intaglios offer some of the greatest variety, but are also perhaps the easiest to overlook. These miniature works of art were extremely portable, cost effective to trade across large distances, but also easy to lose. The distribution of their findspots has therefore not typically been seen as a reliable indicator of the spread of religious belief. After all, a finger ring could easily slip off the finger while working, or as seems to have been the case at the baths at Caerleon, hot water could make the intaglio come loose from the ring itself. Apart from where they are discovered in a specifically religious context (for example the quantities found at Bath), the find of an intaglio depicting a specific deity cannot automatically be said to represent the worship of that deity in that vicinity, or even that the original wearer particularly venerated that deity. Continue reading

Stories from stones – Roman gems lecture

Its been an excellent week for Roman lectures here in Lincoln, with the Lincolnshire Archaeology Day at the weekend, and now Dr Ian Marshman’s excellent lecture to the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. Speaking on the subject of Roman signet rings and their intaglios, Ian took his audience on a fascinating and enthusiastic journey through the function, subject matter and antiquarian interest in these smallest of artistic depictions.

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