A magnificent gold and sapphire ring found in a field in North Yorkshire was probably made in France and could have belonged to a Dark Ages king, according to a panel of experts.
The ring, unlike any found in the UK before, was discovered in a field at Escrick, just outside the ancient city of York, by a metal detectorist in 2009. It measures 2.5cm across and is intricately made of gold, prestige glass and a large sapphire.
It was originally thought to be a 10th or 11th century bishop’s ring when it was bought by the Yorkshire Museum for £35,000 ($52,000). However, a panel of 30 experts from across the UK has concluded that it is far older, probably dating to the 5th or 6th century, and historically more important.
The sapphire was probably cut even earlier, during the Roman period, and was probably first set into a brooch. The gold ring was later specially made to fit the precious stone. Wear and tear on the ring suggests that it was worn for around 50 years before it was lost.
Both the ring and the location where it was found will now be analysed scientists, archaeologists and historians to try to find out how it was made and who it belonged to.
The Yorkshire Museum’s curator of archaeology, Natalie McCaul, said: “This sapphire ring is even more special than we had previously thought. Nothing like it has been found in this country from the 5th or 6th century. It has been fantastic to hear the thoughts of some of the world’s leading experts and their suggestions will allow us to now go away and try and fit the ring into a historical timeframe. Hopefully this will lead us to finding out more about the ring and possibly even who might have owned it.”
The ring is currently on show at the museum in York.