Diameter: 2.200 cm
On loan from English Heritage
On loan from English Heritage (P&EE loan 12.2.1947)
Room 49: Roman Britain
Roman Britain, 2nd - 3rd century AD
From Corbridge, Northumberland
A token of affection
This ring has an inscription in Greek reading 'POLEMIOU PHILTRON', ('the love-token of Polemios'). The ring is a large one, and was probably worn by a man. The inscription suggests that it was a love-token to, rather than from, Polemios, or alternatively, the gift of affection may have been exchanged between two men.
There is other certain evidence for Greek-speakers at the site of Corbridge, where this ring was found, but in fact, as Greek was the universal language of the Eastern Roman Empire, it must have been widely spoken in Britain by the many immigrants from the eastern provinces. Intricate pierced work in gold, producing an effect like fine lace, is an outstanding feature of late-Roman and Byzantine jewellery, though it began as early as the second century. Inscriptions including personal names are sometimes worked into the pierced patterns, and when this is the case, the ornament must have been specifically made to order for the customer.
C. Johns, The jewellery of Roman Britain (London, UCL Press, 1996)