A fine Medieval bronze signet ring, presenting a D-shaped hoop, which widens at its shoulders into a flat, oval bezel. On the bezel, a stylised dragon is engraved facing right. Small, incised lines are skilfully used to convey the image of the dragon: fine grooves spring from the back, fading into the unworked field, to symbolise the creature’s wing; whilst, two claws extend beneath its body and a tail behind it. Its back is arched and its long neck curves upwards, terminating into a crudely executed head. On the ring’s shoulders we see further, albeit faint, incised lines that adorn the piece. The ring is now covered in beautiful green and red patination.
Closest UK ring size: Q.
Date: Circa 12th-13th Century AD Condition: Fine condition, some abrasions on the surface; dragon impression remains clearly and precisely.
Signet rings occurred in various ancient civilisations, as they were used to “sign” documents through the impression of the symbol on the ring pressed in to hot wax. They were widely used in trading to ensure the authenticity and security of a document or letter. The social status of the owner was reflected in the size and media of such seal rings. Different motives or the family crest would be engraved on the bezel which provided further insights into the owner’s identity, such as their place in a family. All markings were engraved backwards to ensure the design would be in the correct position once pressed.
Draconic creatures appeared as early as in ancient Mesopotamian art and mythology. With the rise of Christianity in Western civilisation, dragons began to assume the familiar form known today: four-winged, serpentine creatures capable of breathing fire. They became a staple of myths and local folklore throughout the Middle Ages, and a recurring theme in Medieval artistic production and heraldry.
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