Rare Bronze Age ring found by detectorist goes under hammer

Penanular Bronze Age ring.

A rare Bronze Age penannular ring dating from around 1150 to 750BC will be sold in Tennants Auctioneers next month.

The ring was found by a metal detectorist in the Ripon area, and it was on display in Ripon Cathedral for 20 years having been declared not treasure trove.

The penannular ring (meaning a ring which is an incomplete circle) is one of a class of artefacts known as ‘ring money’ or ‘hair rings’.

Over the years there has been much debate amongst archaeologists and scholars of the era, but the exact function of this type of ring is still not known.

It is perhaps a form of proto-money used in exchanges or transactions, or a decorative adornment worn on the ear or nose, or even on clothing or in the hair as a sign of wealth.

No matter its function, it would have been a high-status symbol.

This type of chunky penannular ring have been found in the highest concentration in the south of England, which was thus likely a centre of manufacture, although they have been found in Northern England, Wales and Scotland.

The majority of such rings are composed of strips of gold or gold and alloy wrapped around a silver, base metal or copper alloy core. The present example, which was examined and tested at the British Museum shortly after its discovery, is thought to be made from strips of gold and another cooler-toned metal wrapped around a solid gold core. These rings are very rare, and this example is being sold with an estimate of £600-800 (plus buyer’s premium).

Tennants’ Coins, Tokens & Banknotes Sale on August 9 will also feature a fine offering of gold, silver, modern and historic coins and banknotes, which will appeal to collectors of all areas.

One of the highlights is sure to be a Victoria 1887 Proof Set; the eleven-coin set, minted for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, is a rare and sought-after set, of which only 797 were produced (estimate: £15,000-18,000 all figures exclude buyer’s premium). The set comprises a full set of gold and silver coins from five pounds to threepence and is housed in its original red leather case.

In addition, the sale will include an excellent selection of good coins and banknotes, including a George V Proof Crown 1935 (estimate: £500-600), a Charles III Guinea 1683 (estimate: £1,000-1,500), and a rare George V Sovereign 1921 Sydney Mint (estimate: £600-800). There is a pleasing group of interesting 18th century tokens including a selection of rare Samuel Birchall, Leeds Halfpennies, each with an estimate of £180-250, and a quality group of 19th Century Commemorative and Award Medals.

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