Gold rings from the Thetford treasure
Roman Britain, 4th century AD
These twenty-two finger-rings form part of a remarkable hoard of late-Roman gold jewellery and silver tableware found near Thetford, Norfolk, in 1979.
The jewellery, most of which is in pristine, unused condition, clearly shows the late-Antique taste for elaboration and bright colour which had been evolving since the third century AD. The stylistic links between individual items suggest that most were the products of a single workshop, quite possibly in Britain.
Some of the rings are of familiar late-Roman types, but others are of exceptionally original and flamboyant design. They are set with garnets, emeralds, amethysts, various forms of semi-precious hardstone and glass; many small settings were evidently loose and were not recovered when the hoard was found. The engraved gems are of earlier date than the goldwork, and had been re-mounted from older pieces of jewellery. The rings with shoulders in the form of dolphins and birds are particularly interesting.
C.M. Johns and T. Potter, The Thetford Treasure: Roman j (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)