Britain’s National Trust and the Tolkien Society are putting the artifact on display Tuesday for fans of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” to decide for themselves whether this was Tolkien’s precious ring of power.
Found in a field near a historic Roman town in southern England in 1785, the gold ring is inscribed in Latin, “Senicianus live well in God,” and inset with an image of the goddess Venus. It is larger than average, weights 12 grams, and is believed to date from the 4th century.
The ring is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found separately at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to a god named Nodens in Gloucestershire, western England. The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returned it to the temple.
An archaeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929.
The writer also visited the temple several times, and some believe he would have been aware of the existence of the Roman ring before he started writing “The Hobbit.”
Details of the exhibition can be found here.
I expect to hear any day now that H.G. Wells’s time machine was based on an ancient Cuisinart that took people back to childhood with its evocation of homemade cookie dough.