Unique gold ring found during excavation

Amateur archaeologist finds 650-year-old gold finger ring in connection with renovation of square.

The gold ring from Nykøbing Torv.
Photo: Anders Rasmussen, Museum Lolland-Falster..

Archaeologists from Museum Lolland Falster have made a completely unique find of a small gold ring from the Middle Ages.

The ring, which depicts the Virgin Mary with the child, appeared during the museum's excavations prior to Guldborgsund Municipality's renovation of the square in Nykøbing.

The ring weighs six grams and has an inner diameter of 2.5 centimeters.
Excavation leader Signe Fog Mogensen says that it was the amateur archaeologist Martin B. Nielsen who found the ring with his metal detector when he helped the archaeologists with the excavation work.

- The ring was pressed down between the stones in an old paving, and although it is somewhat deformed by the many years in the ground, it is very well preserved, says Signe Fog Mogensen.

The gold ring dates from the second half of the 14th century, says Michael Andersen, who is head of research at the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Numismatics at the National Museum.

- It is a very rare and unusual find. It is not something you see every day, but rather once every fifty years, says Michael Andersen.

Michael Andersen does not dare to guess who the owner has been. The ring may have belonged to both a woman and a man, and one should not be fooled by the fact that the ring has a large diameter.

Back then, it was not uncommon for people to wear gloves and wear finger rings outside the gloves.
It is a type of ring that could be worn by both clergy and secular persons.

- The ring has had a very special meaning for the person who wore it. It has been part of an individual culture of piety and has shown the owner's personal piety and special connection to the church and participation in personal devotionals, says Michael Andersen.

Precisely in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Virgin Mary was a popular saint, and the worship of the Madonna can still be seen in the furniture of many churches from that time and in frescoes. That way, the little gold finger ring fits nicely into the currents of the times.

Just like today, Nykøbing Falster was a bustling city, and there was a lively traffic on the square at that time in the 14th century. Signe Fog Mogensen says that the church was located right on the north side of the square. The town hall was also located on the square, and the square was the setting for markets and the town's commercial life.

The gold ring is not the only Madonnaring that has been found in Nykøbing. In the late 1800s, a treasure was found in Frisegade, which in addition to a lot of coins also contained two rings, one of which is reminiscent of the ring from the square.

The article is first featured in
written by Margit Olsen June 20, 2019

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