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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, made)
    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1200-1300 (made)
    around 1375 - 1425 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold; wolf's tooth

  • Museum number:

    816-1902

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 6, shelf B, box 12

Gems have long been considered by all peoples as somehow magical because of their brilliance of colour and hardness, but other materials, such as teeth, also had magical properties.
This ring has the hoop engraved with two inscriptions, providing double the power; one a magic formula, the other a biblical phrase. The magical charm: ‘BURO + BERTO + BERNETO’ is to protect against toothache; the tooth set in the bezel may well have been expected to contribute to the prophylactic power of the words. The biblical phrase 'CONSUMMATUM + EST' are the last words Christ spoke on the Cross, and were used as a charm to calm storms.
As this ring is large, it is probably it belonged to a man, and as storms would endanger the wearer only when at sea, it has been suggested that a travelling merchant who undertook many sea voyages might be a possible candidate for ownership.

Physical description

Ring, gold, wolf's tooth. The shoulders are decorated with stiff-leafed foliage moulded in high relief against a cross-hatched background. On each side of the ring are pierced pear-shaped holes within which there are small openwork crowns. The heart-shaped bezel is set with a wolf's tooth. Inside the hoop is a later inscription, engraved in black letter: + Buro + Berto + Berneto + Consum[m]atum e[st].

Place of Origin

England (possibly, made)
France (possibly, made)

Date

1200-1300 (made)
around 1375 - 1425 (altered)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold; wolf's tooth

Marks and inscriptions

+ Buro + Berto + Berneto + Consum[m]atum e[st]
The first three words beginning with 'B' are a magical charm to appease toothache. The last is an abbreviation of Christ's final words on the cross, used as a charm to calm storms.
engraved inside the hoop; in black letter.

Dimensions

Height: 0.9 cm, Width: 2.6 cm, Depth: 2.8 cm, Diameter: 2.1 cm

Historical context note

The inscription: ‘BURO + BERTO + BERNETO’ is a magical charm against toothache; the tooth set into the bezel may well have been expected to contribute to the prophylactic power of the words. The biblical phrase 'CONSUMMATUM + EST' are the last words Christ spoke on the Cross, and were was used as a charm to calm storms.This combination of charms is not, however, unusual, as other examples are known.
As this ring is large, it is probably it belonged to a man, and as storms would endanger the wearer only when at sea, it has been suggested by Sarah Bercusson that a travelling merchant could be a possible candidate for ownership.

Descriptive line

Gold ring, the heart-shaped bezel set with a wolf's tooth. A later black letter inscription inside the hoop reads Buro + Berto + Berneto + Consum[m]atum e[st], used as charms against toothache and to calm storms. England or France, 1200-1300, the inscription probably 1375-1425.

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

Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England 1200-1400, Alexander, J. and Binski, P. (eds), London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1987, no.647, pp.484-5
Ward, A. et al, The Ring, London 1981, no 131.
Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p.22

Production Note

The later engraving around 1375 - 1425

Materials

Gold; Tooth

Techniques

Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Tooth

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Amulets; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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