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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1375-1400 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, engraved and cast

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.235-1962

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 5, shelf D, box 1

Silver or gold 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 and George. 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.Saints in pre-Reformation British beliefs played an important role as helpers and intercessors - wearing a ring engraved with an image of favoured saints was a way of maintaining a direct and personal relationship with them.

St George, the patron saint of England, is shown on this ring piercing a dragon with his spear. The cult of St George was established in 1415 after the battle of Agincourt and became an important part of national life. His feast day was celebrated with dramatic plays and he was invoked in the yearly Rogation ceremonies to beat the boundaries of parishes. St George was the patron saint of the Order of the Garter and particularly venerated by Henry V. The devotion to St George made fashionable by the royal court soon extended into the lower rungs of society. Statues, banners and other images of St George began to appear in great numbers in parish churches.
This ring is unusual in having a cast figure attached to the bezel rather than an image engraved upon the metal.

Physical description

Gold ring, the oval bezel has inset a relief of St George standing holding in both hands a lance that pierces the mouth of the dragon. Inscribed in French in black lettering on the shoulders with nul / si bien (None so good).

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1375-1400 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold, engraved and cast

Marks and inscriptions

'nul si bien.'
'None so good'
Engraved on the shoulders, in French, in black lettering

Dimensions

Height: 2.2 cm, Width: 2.2 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm

Object history note

Found at King's Langley, Hertfordshire in 1866.

Descriptive line

Gold ring, the bezel set with a relief of St. George and the dragon, inscribed on the shoulders in black lettering in French nul / si bien (None so good). England, 1375-1400.

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.658, p.487
Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p. 20, fig. 15
Evans, Joan, English posies and posy rings, 1931, p. 12
Victoria and Albert Museum Exhibition of English Medieval Art, 1930, cat. 876

Materials

Gold

Techniques

Engraving; Casting

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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