Ring Which Inspired The Hobbit On Display
An ancient gold ring which is thought to have inspired Tolkien to write The Hobbit is going on show in Hampshire.
The ring, which was found in a farmer's field in 1785, is linked to a Roman curse tablet which echoes the legends created by the author in his fantasy novels.
It is now to go on display at the National Trust property The Vyne - at Sherborne St John, near Basingstoke - where the ring, which is inscribed in Latin and inset with an image of the goddess Venus, lay forgotten in the library for many years.
The ring, which was found in a field in nearby Silchester, a Roman town with a famous excavation site, is inscribed with the words 'Senicianus live well in God'.
How the ring came to reside at The Vyne is unknown but the owner, Chaloner Chute, included information about the ring in his history of the building in 1888.
The ring is larger than an average one, with a diameter of 25mm and weighing 12g, and may have been made to wear on a thumb and over a glove.
It is probably 4th-century, has a 10-faceted hoop and a bezel mounted on the top engraved with an image of the goddess of Venus.
Dr Lynn Forest-Hill, education officer for the Tolkien Society, said: "We were delighted to partner the National Trust in this project and to assist with research that may shed further light on the history of this mysterious piece of gold.
"The result is a unique exhibition that delves into the ring's past, and allows visitors to decide for themselves: is this The One Ring?
"The influences most often cited for Tolkien's creation of The One Ring usually take the form of literary or legendary rings such as the Ring of the Nibelungs, or the old king's ring in the 14th century story of Bevis of Hampton.
"It is, then, particularly fascinating to see the physical evidence of the Vyne Ring, with its links to Tolkien through the inscription associating it with a curse.
"It is well known that in 1929 Tolkien worked on the etymology of the name Nodens mentioned on a Roman curse stone.
Extending the Tolkien theme, The Vyne has transformed its gardens into an adventure playground based on Tolkien's Middle-earth.