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Not currently on display at the V&A

Ring

after 1857 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This ring is a replica of the ring known as the Darnley Ring (841-1871),which has long been one of the best known rings in the V&A's collection. It is said to have been given by Mary, Queen of Scots to Henry, Lord Darnley in 1565 to celebrate their betrothal and marriage.

Supposedly found amongst the ruins of Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire in 1820, the ring was exhibited to the Archaeological Institute, Salisbury in 1849, and had been acquired by Edmund Waterton by 1857, whose collection was purchased by the Museum in 1871. Scholarship had not questioned the authenticity of the ring's associations until the publication of the Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (V&A, 1982) in which Shirley Bury suggests that the inscription may not be original. Nonetheless, the ring's compelling story inspired the production of many replicas for sale to the devoted admirers of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary had long been celebrated as a tragic heroine in Scotland, but interest became more widespread in the early 19th century with the publication of Sir Walter Scott's 'Waverley' novels and the state visit by George IV in 1822.

This silver ring is one of a number of known replicas. Considerable differences between the replica and the original Darnley Ring suggest that the replicas were formed after an engraving of the ring published in the Archaeological Journal in 1857 (vol. XIV, 1857, pp.297-300), rather than the ring itself.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Silver, engraved
Brief description
Silver ring (replica of the Darnley Ring); England, late 19th or early 20th century.
Physical description
Silver ring with inscriptions in imitation of the 'Darnley Ring' (see 841-1871). Its circular bezel is engraved with the letters H and M and on the inside the letters 'HENRI L DARNLEY 1565' surround a crowned shield featuring a lion rampant.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 1.9cm
  • Height: 1.5cm
Marks and inscriptions
  • 'HM' (Letters engraved on the bezel, referring to Henry, Lord Darnley and Mary, Queen of Scots)
  • 'HENRI. L. DARNLEY. 1565' (Inside inscription)
Credit line
Given by Mr and Mrs B. Ellis
Object history
Found by the donors while renovating their home in Soutergate in 1987.
Historical context
This is a reproduction of a cast gold ring said to have been found near Fotheringay Castle before 1849 and now in the V&A (841-1871). The inscription and coat-of-arms refer to Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband Lord Henry Stuart Darnley (1541-67) whom she married on July 29, 1565.
Subjects depicted
Associations
Summary
This ring is a replica of the ring known as the Darnley Ring (841-1871),which has long been one of the best known rings in the V&A's collection. It is said to have been given by Mary, Queen of Scots to Henry, Lord Darnley in 1565 to celebrate their betrothal and marriage.



Supposedly found amongst the ruins of Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire in 1820, the ring was exhibited to the Archaeological Institute, Salisbury in 1849, and had been acquired by Edmund Waterton by 1857, whose collection was purchased by the Museum in 1871. Scholarship had not questioned the authenticity of the ring's associations until the publication of the Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (V&A, 1982) in which Shirley Bury suggests that the inscription may not be original. Nonetheless, the ring's compelling story inspired the production of many replicas for sale to the devoted admirers of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary had long been celebrated as a tragic heroine in Scotland, but interest became more widespread in the early 19th century with the publication of Sir Walter Scott's 'Waverley' novels and the state visit by George IV in 1822.



This silver ring is one of a number of known replicas. Considerable differences between the replica and the original Darnley Ring suggest that the replicas were formed after an engraving of the ring published in the Archaeological Journal in 1857 (vol. XIV, 1857, pp.297-300), rather than the ring itself.
Associated object
841-1871 (Original)
Collection
Accession number
M.32-2005

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Record createdMarch 28, 2006
Record URL
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