Ring thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Ring

15th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rings engraved with figures of saints have become known as 'iconographic' rings. They seem to have been a particularly British type and sometimes combine religious imagery with romantic posies. They feature the most venerated saints of the middle ages: Sts Christopher, Catherine, Margaret, Barbara, John the Baptist. The choice of saint was probably dictated by local loyalties, membership of confraternities devoted to a particular saint or the desire to invoke that saint's help with a particular matter. St Christopher was believed to protect the soul of the wearer from the dangers of purgatory which might follow sudden death as well as offering help to travellers.

St Margaret was thought to offer protection to pregnant women. Her triumph over the devil, who was disguised as a dragon, mirrored the very real dangers present for women in childbirth. A medieval English poem in honour of St Margaret promised that any woman who appealed to the saint whilst in labour would find that "her that her chylde be borne with alle the lymmes aryghte,
And not to be dumme, nor nothynge broken, nor blynde withouten syghte" (her child would be born with all its limbs aright, and not be dumb nor nothing broken, nor blind without sight).

In 1441, the English gentlewoman Margaret Paston who was then pregnant, sent a ring with an image of her patron saint St Margaret to her husband ‘for a remembrance till ye come home’.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold
Brief Description
Gold ring depicting St. Margaret, England, 15th century
Physical Description
Gold ring depicting St. Margaret
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.1cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 0.7cm
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Subject depicted
Summary
Rings engraved with figures of saints have become known as 'iconographic' rings. They seem to have been a particularly British type and sometimes combine religious imagery with romantic posies. They feature the most venerated saints of the middle ages: Sts Christopher, Catherine, Margaret, Barbara, John the Baptist. The choice of saint was probably dictated by local loyalties, membership of confraternities devoted to a particular saint or the desire to invoke that saint's help with a particular matter. St Christopher was believed to protect the soul of the wearer from the dangers of purgatory which might follow sudden death as well as offering help to travellers.



St Margaret was thought to offer protection to pregnant women. Her triumph over the devil, who was disguised as a dragon, mirrored the very real dangers present for women in childbirth. A medieval English poem in honour of St Margaret promised that any woman who appealed to the saint whilst in labour would find that "her that her chylde be borne with alle the lymmes aryghte,

And not to be dumme, nor nothynge broken, nor blynde withouten syghte" (her child would be born with all its limbs aright, and not be dumb nor nothing broken, nor blind without sight).



In 1441, the English gentlewoman Margaret Paston who was then pregnant, sent a ring with an image of her patron saint St Margaret to her husband ‘for a remembrance till ye come home’.
Collection
Accession Number
M.238-1962

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record createdMarch 2, 2006
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