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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England

  • Date:

    1300-1500

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.226-1962

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Public access description

    Bronze rings shaped like buckled straps survive in some numbers from the middle ages. This ring is engraved with the Latin motto 'Mater dei memanto' which can be translated as 'Mother of God remember me'. This suggests that they were sold at shrines, in the same way as lead pilgrim badges. These rings haven't been linked with a particular shrine but the shape of the ring and the inscription calling upon the Virgin Mary may relate to a shrine holding a girdle relic such as Le Puy in France or Prato, Italy. Girdles which had been blessed at a shrine or inscribed with prayers were sometimes worn by pregnant women during their pregnancy and labour to help ensure a safe delivery such as the girdle hired by Elisabeth of York, wife of Henry VII to help during her pregnancy. It is possible that these rings served a similar purpose although it should be noted that rings in the shape of belts or buckles continued to be made into the nineteenth century.

    A ring, described as 'formed like a strap or garter buckled and inscribed 'Mater dei memento mei' was found at Necton, Norfolk and recorded in 1847 in 'Memoirs illustrative of the history and antiquities of Norfok and the city of Norwich'. The British Museum has a similar ring (AF882) as does the Norwich Castle Museum. Another V&A ring (M.225-1962) shares the same design.

  • Physical description

    Bronze ring shaped like a buckle, inscribed 'Mater dei memanto'

  • Object history note

    Found at Hethersett, near Wymondham Norfolk in 1845 and exhibited by Joseph Warren of Ixworth at the Ironmongers Hall Exhibition, 1869, p. 485. Then Sir John Evans Collection, Dame Joan Evans collection.
    A purse frame with a variation on this inscription, dated 1450-1500, was recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (SUR-B93AC3 )as was a spoon handle (WMID-5FF2DB). Similar rings were recorded as CORN-4A7DC7, LON-596D94 and BH-7ADF24.

  • Descriptive line

    Jewellery

  • Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

    Ironmongers Hall Exhibition, 1869, p. 485.
    Archaeological Association Journal XII, pl. 40

  • Collection code

    Metalwork Collection