Finger rings come in a variety of material: glass, copper alloy, iron, jet, amber, shale, silver and gold. When studying the composition of silver hoards, it can be seen that finger rings never make up a large percentage of the whole. A good overview of rings from York can be found in Mainman and Rogers (2000), and in Dr. Catherine E Johnson's MA dissertation: A Typological Assessment of Late Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age Finger-Rings from Britain Dating from AD 600-1100. Glass rings are evidenced from Lincoln in yellow and green. Amber rings in various stages of manufacture from first rough out to finished item have been found in York. Metal rings come in several forms - the flattened sheet variety, those of twisted wire, plain single strand wire, and some cast ones. Rings can be annular or penanular. With the penanular variety the opens ends usually come to a point with the annular the ends are either forged together or are twisted together to form a knot. The rings found in the British isles are all rather large. Statistical study of the rings from Scotland give and average diameter of 2.54cm (or 7.97cm circumference), this figure is actually rather large and would suggest that these rings belonged to men or large fingered women, or were intended to be worn on the thumb. The rings from Sweden are all smaller than 2cm diameter.
Viking finger rings
Anglo Saxon rings
the the West Yorkshire Hoard is made up of seven objects, all believed to date from the seventh to 11th centuries. Six of the objects in the hoard are high quality gold jewellery, which would only have been worn by people of exceptional wealth and very high status in Anglo Saxon society. The most visually impressive item in the collection is a stunning gold ring with a lozenge-shaped bezel set with a garnet gem. Three more beautiful gold rings, a gold brooch fragment, a gold ingot fragment and a lead spindle whorl, which was used to spin wool into yarn, complete the hoard.
Credits: with thanks to Caroline Buckley.