Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

600-700 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This ring engraved with a solemn bearded man and the name 'Aufret' was long believed to be associated with King Alfred the Great. However, recent scholarship has drawn attention to its resemblance to a group of Lombard rings dating from the 7th century. The fine quality of the ring suggests that it belonged to a person of some importance.

It was found in 1726 in the central Italian town of Bagnoregnio in the ruins of the church of St Peter, destroyed in an earthquake in 1695. It was acquired by a Roman antiquarian, collector and bibliophile , the Marquis Alessandro Gregorio Capponi. Capponi's manuscript diary, with a description of the ring, survives in the Vatican Library. After Capponi's death in 1746, it is believed that the 'Aufret' ring joined the collection of the Museo Kircheriano in Rome and from there went into the Vatican collections. In 1857, the ring was presented to the British collector and aesthete Edmund Waterton. Waterton was a noted ring collector but also held a post in the papal household of Pius IX. He displayed the ring at the Society of Antiquaries, London, in 1859, erroneously suggesting that it had been found with 'a considerable number of coins of Alfred' and suggesting that 'Aufred' might be a corrupted spelling for 'Alfred', an attribution which survived unchallenged until the 1980s. Waterton's financial problems led to the sale of his collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1871.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold
Brief Description
Gold signet ring, the circular bezel engraved with the bust of a bearded man between the name 'AVF RET', a pair of flattened pellets on each shoulder, probably Lombard, 7th century
Physical Description
Gold signet ring, the circular bezel engraved with the bust of a bearded man between the name 'AVF RET'. Decorated with a pair of flattened pellets on each shoulder.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.3cm
  • Width: 2.5cm
  • Depth: 1.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'AVF RET' (Name; engraved)
Object history
From Bury St. Edmunds, ex Waterton Collection. The early history of the ring has been researched by Dr Wilhelm Kurze and presented at the conference I Signori degli Anelli. Un aggiornamento sugli anelli-sigillo longobardi. Giornata di Studio, Milano, 17 Maggio 2001, was organised by Prof. Silvia Lusuardi Siena of the Catholic University of Milan. The ring was found in Civita di Bagnoregnio, in central Italy in 1726. A large portion of the town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1695, including the church of St Peter. According to his own declaration, the treasurer of the Brotherhood of St Peter, found the AUFRET ring whilst sifting through the ruins of the church on the 5th of September 1726. The ring was said to have been found below the floor near the altar. The ring was confiscated from the Brotherhood and eventually passed to the local bishop Onofrio Pini (1721-54). It was subsequently acquired by the Roman collector, the Marquis Alessandro Gregorio Capponi (1683-1746) and is recorded in his manuscript diary which still survives in the Vatican Library.



Historical significance: This ring, previously described as Anglo Saxon, was said to have been found in Rome with a hoard of coins of Alfred the Great (849-901). The story has recently been challenged, and the inscription cannot therefore be taken to refer to King Alfred. The Anglo Saxon attribution which depended on the association with Alfred has to be balanced against the general resemblance of the ring to Lombard seal rings. It bears a close resemblance to the Gumedruta ring in the British Museum (1920,1028.2) which is engraved with a female bust and a personal name.
Production
Probably Lombard.
Subject depicted
Summary
This ring engraved with a solemn bearded man and the name 'Aufret' was long believed to be associated with King Alfred the Great. However, recent scholarship has drawn attention to its resemblance to a group of Lombard rings dating from the 7th century. The fine quality of the ring suggests that it belonged to a person of some importance.



It was found in 1726 in the central Italian town of Bagnoregnio in the ruins of the church of St Peter, destroyed in an earthquake in 1695. It was acquired by a Roman antiquarian, collector and bibliophile , the Marquis Alessandro Gregorio Capponi. Capponi's manuscript diary, with a description of the ring, survives in the Vatican Library. After Capponi's death in 1746, it is believed that the 'Aufret' ring joined the collection of the Museo Kircheriano in Rome and from there went into the Vatican collections. In 1857, the ring was presented to the British collector and aesthete Edmund Waterton. Waterton was a noted ring collector but also held a post in the papal household of Pius IX. He displayed the ring at the Society of Antiquaries, London, in 1859, erroneously suggesting that it had been found with 'a considerable number of coins of Alfred' and suggesting that 'Aufred' might be a corrupted spelling for 'Alfred', an attribution which survived unchallenged until the 1980s. Waterton's financial problems led to the sale of his collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1871.
Bibliographic Reference
'The double life of Aufret - revealed'; Gannon, Anna, FSA, 'The Antiquaries Journal', 92, 2012, pp 1-13 Lusuardi, Siena,, S (ed), I Signori degli Anelli, Milan, 2004
Collection
Accession Number
629-1871

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 16, 2006
Record URL