A unique Medieval English love ring featuring the image of a panther has been discovered by a treasure hunter in the peat bogs of the Netherlands.
The discovery was revealed by the archaeological department of Landschap Erfgoed Utrecht (Landscape Heritage Utrecht).
The golden Medieval ring was found with a metal detector by a person who wished to remain anonymous in the peat bogs just to the north of the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Archaeologist Alexander van de Bunt said: “I was astonished when I saw the first pictures of this ring.
“At first sight, the beautifully decorated shank of the ring and the text with the image of an animal on the inside of the ring stand out.”
Van de Bunt assumed the ring is a so-called “black letter posy-ring” made in Medieval England between 1375 and 1550.
Encrypted French text reading “Amours portent mon cuer a mon ami” (“Love brings my heart to my love”) was found inside the ring.
Despite the text being French, van de Bunt is still working on the assumption the ring was forged in England as French was the main language for trade and romantic relationships of the upper classes at the time.
He said: “Even though a few rings might be of French origin it is commonly assumed nowadays that this type of ring was made and used in England.”
A particularly interesting detail, according to van de Bunt, is the choice of the word “ami” which is the masculine French word for ‘friend’, which could mean the ring was meant to highlight the love of a woman for her husband. This would make the ring even more unique as at the time rings were usually bought by men – in which case the French word would have likely been “amie” instead – the feminine form of the word.
Van de Bunt has not yet managed to match the text with poems or other writings which were commonly read in Medieval England.
He said: “Of course it is also possible that the giver of the ring had completely different intentions than we can think about.”
The image of the animal on the ring also mystifies the Dutch archaeologists.
The animal is four-legged and has black spots, leaving it open for interpretation.
It could be a panther which at the time was commonly associated with Jesus Christ, but it could easily be a greyhound as well, a breed of dog which at the time was very popular with the nobility and was seen as a symbol for loyalty in marriage and perseverance.
The Dutch archaeologists are currently researching all theories and interpretations of the image and text on the ring to try and determine its origin even better.
Van de Bunt said: “How the ring ended up in Utrecht and got lost again will most likely always remain a mystery, however.”