This Roman finger ring with an engraved intaglio was discovered by a metal-detectorist near Chelmsford in Essex and was recently declared treasure.
This style of intaglio is known as a Henig Type II and dates to c.AD 125-175. The band of the ring is made of silver and is unadorned. It is relatively narrow at the base but widens around the intaglio setting. The gem is slightly raised so that it could function as a seal for signing documents. Although it appears black, it is in fact a dark orange-red colour that has been saturated, possibly indicating it is a carnelian. The figure carved into the gem is that of Apollo, shown facing right with a laurel branch in his left hand and quiver of arrows over his shoulder. He is either holding a staff in his right hand or is leaning against a column.
The style of the gem cutting, using long strokes, is very similar to some of the 110 unmounted intaglios found in the Snettisham Jeweller’s Hoard – a collection of Romano-British jewellery that was possibly buried in a clay pot near Snettisham in AD 155 and was found in 1985 (not to be confused with the famous torcs of the Iron Age Snettisham Hoard). Based on the dates as well as the similarities in carving between both this ring and the intaglios from the hoard, it is possible they were all made in the same workshop or by a related engraver.
For more information about this ring, see https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/910039
or search for ESS-73FD6C on the PAS database.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative to encourage the recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. For more information on the Scheme, and to browse its database of more than 1.5 million finds, visit http://www.finds.org.uk. Information for this find was provided by Lori Rogerson, Finds Liaison Officer – Essex.
Image Credit: Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service