Love Brings Solace and Joy

01/02/202107:0028/01/2021 11:06Leave a Comment

This gold ring is an item of jewellery known as a posy or posie ring. Posy rings were popular from the medieval period onwards. The name derives from the French for poetry, a reference to the short sayings with which these rings were inscribed. Worn as finger rings they were typically used as love tokens and wedding rings or sometimes simply exchanged as gifts between friends. The inscribed phrases expressed affection, friendship or love. It was the ideal way to give a lasting gift with a personal message for those who could afford such an expensive gesture.

The phrases chosen for posy rings were usually written in Latin or French, languages that would have been understood at court throughout Western Europe. Some of the inscriptions used were unique but others re-appear regularly and seem to have been chosen from a list of stock phrases.  On this ring there are two phrases, which translate as ‘love conquers everything except the heart of a wretch’ and ‘love brings solace and joy’.  Although the ring is squashed and the size is difficult to estimate the ring is relatively heavy and large. It was probably made in England in the fifteenth century and was clearly an expensive item that could have belonged to a member of the nobility. Its owner would have been saddened to have lost such a valuable personal piece of jewellery.

The posy ring was found by a metal detectorist within a mile of the site of Chartley Hall home of the Devereux family who had strong royal connections in the sixteenth century. Queen Elizabeth I was entertained at Chartley Hall on her journey through Staffordshire in 1575. Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner there from 1585 to 1586. It was while at Chartley that she corresponded secretly with the group of Catholics led by Anthony Babington that led to her arrest and eventual execution for treason. The original Chartley Hall was destroyed by fire in 1781.

Written by Glenn Roadley (Curator, Natural Sciences)

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