Ammonites are also sometimes called snake stones – a plague of snakes turned to stone by the Christian saint, Hilda of Whitby. Ammonites are sometimes carved with the head of a snake for this reason, and appear on the crests of schools that St Hilda, as the patron saint of learning, patronises. These beautiful ammonites are an extinct group of marine mollusk that were distant relatives of the living squid and octopus. The name ‘ammonite’ was given by Pliny the Elder because of the resemblance to the ram’s horns of Ammon, the Egyptian god of life and procreation. Widespread and diverse in Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, ammonites then died out, but have been found world wide.
St Hilda’s Serpent Ammonites
Two beautiful examples of Dactyloceras ammonites, both of which are made up of two mirror-copy examples. This produces a special kinetic feature to the piece, a perfect talking point. They are also known as St Hilda’s Serpent stones through the English folkstory of St Hilda of Whitby.