A 600-year-old gold ring engraved with St George and the Dragon sheds new light on the saint’s medieval followers in Norwich, an expert has told the BBC.
The ring, found by a metal detectorist in South Creake, Norfolk, dates from between 1350 and 1430.
Dr Jonathan Good, author of The Cult of St George, said the ring “attests to the popularity of St George” and may be linked to a guild devoted to the saint.
The ring was ruled to be treasure at an inquest in Norwich this week.
It is set to be acquired by Norwich Castle Museum.
In her role as one of the experts in Channel 4’s long-running Time Team series, Dr Helen Geake saw many exciting finds come to the surface. But the discovery of the stunning gold and jewel pendant, dug out of a muddy South Norfolk field and announced today, tops the lot.
The exquisite 7cm pendant is stunningly made with gold ‘cells’ and red garnet inlays. Some of the garnets have been cut to make animal ‘interlace’, a popular and highly-skilled design technique from the period where representations of creatures are stretched out and intricately interwoven.
But all of these discoveries were still in the future when Tom Lucking, a first-year UEA landscape archaeology student and keen member of the Suffolk Archaeological Field Group, was exploring the field – with the landowner’s permission – just before Christmas.
His detector found a large and deep signal, and he dug down just far enough to reveal the top of a bronze bowl. Instead of carrying on he did exactly the right thing: carefully re-filling the hole and calling in the Field Group’s geophysics team to survey the site, and Norfolk County Council’s Heritage Environment Service to assess any finds.
The figures are astonishing. A third of all portable antiquities discovered in the whole country in any one year are found in just one county: Norfolk. “And 10% of those are treasure cases. It’s a staggering figure,” says Dr Tim Pestell, Curator of Archaeology of Norwich Castle Museum.
“Annually we record more than 20,000 finds in Norfolk. In 2012 there were 123 treasure cases in the county – a new British record – and last year 106.”
It’s a glowing testament not only to our amazing heritage but also to the warm working relationship which has existed for many years between the experts at Norfolk’s Historic Environment Service, Norfolk Museums Service and local metal detector users.