This particular type of ring falls under the category of iconographic rings, depicting Saints that were picked for personal devotion. Like many societies, jewellery and rings in particular were exceedingly common in Medieval culture. Worn by both men and women they were available in a range of materials and thus were appreciated by all social classes. Iconographic rings were popular because they could be worn by all. They, unlike signet rings, did not require a lineage or ancestry. Amongst this sub-group, scenes of the Annunciation were quite common. With two simple figures, the Virgin Mary and St Gabriel, blacksmiths were able to tell a distinct narrative. The most simple of Annunciation iconographic rings depicted, as we have here, a kneeling St Gabriel on the left, genuflecting a standing Mary. Usually a branch of lilies appears between them. Such scenes give an insight into the personal devotion of Medieval citizens, and in this case, of a person of lower social status.
Medieval Bronze Iconographic Ring with the Annunciation
A fine Medieval bronze iconographic ring featuring a round angled loop and decorated bezel. The flattened hoop leads to a square bezel marked by an incised decorative border framing a stylised image of two saints. The shorter figure on the left is depicted kneeling, his head raised in supplication to the standing figure on the right. Based on the composition we can ascertain that this is an Annunciation scene, depicting a standing Virgin Mary and kneeeling St Gabriel. Both figures are stylised, depicted facing each other and dressed in long robes marked with incised linear patterns. A stylised flower, a lily, has been placed between the two figures. Some faint traces of pigment are still visible in the grooves of the linear incisions.
Closest UK ring size K 1/2
Condition: Very fine condition. Hoop slightly scratched. A rare piece.