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Source: Aisle of Wight

13 Mar 2020

A medieval treasure unearthed by an Isle of Wight metal detectorist is now on display at the Museum of Island History at Newport Guildhall.

The 15th century gold ring was discovered by Matthew Shaw while metal detecting in the parish of Godshill in June 2018.

The Isle of Wight Heritage Service raised funds to acquire the ring and thanks to grants from The Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund and The Art Fund, the artefact will return to the Isle of Wight.

The gold finger ring depicts St Margaret of Antioch spearing a dragon through the mouth. The ring is also decorated with letters which translate as ‘graciously accept’ or ‘accept with gratitude’ — a phrase that is often associated with wedding gifts.

Corina Westwood, curator of human history, said: “St Margaret was a famous saint during medieval times — after refusing to marry, she was faced with terrible trials and tortures.

“An account of one of the trials describes how Satan, disguised as a dragon, swallowed Margaret alive. Margaret’s faith freed her from the dragon, spearing it through its mouth with her cross.

“St Margaret of Antioch is the patron saint of expectant mothers.”

Important new discoveries are made regularly by Island metal detectorists who work alongside the Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Frank Basford, to record these finds on their website.

The Isle of Wight Council’s heritage service acquires many of these treasure finds and they can be seen on display at the Museum of Island History, Carisbrooke Castle Museum and Newport Roman Villa.

The service collects artefacts which tell a story about the lives of Islanders in the past.

Councillor John Hobart, Cabinet member for environment and heritage, said: “The St Margaret ring gives an insight into medieval belief and devotion which are relevant themes to our visitors and community today.

“The story of St Margaret’s resilience will hopefully excite and inspire a wider audience and encourage more people to find out more about the Island’s past.”

Factfile

  • The gold finger ring depicts St Margaret of Antioch spearing a dragon through the mouth.
  • The Isle of Wight Heritage Service raised funds to acquire the ring.

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