There is a buzz in Tolkiendom right now about a gold ring dating from Roman times, which may have given Tolkien a seed of an idea for his own ‘One Ring’. The ancient ring, found in 1785 in a field which was a Roman archaeological site in Silchester, Hampshire, UK, was associated with a ‘curse tablet’, cursing the man whom the original owner accused of stealing the gold trinket. Archeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, investigating the wording of the curse, consulted with Tolkien about the ring in 1929; and that conversation may have been part of Tolkien’s inspiration to create his own magic ring.
The Roman artifact is now being shown in a new display at National Trust property The Vyne, also in Hampshire. The display includes a first edition of The Hobbit, and was arranged with the help of the Tolkien Trust. You can read more about this fascinating item, including an excellent explanation of the associated curse, in this article from the Guardian newspaper, here. Further articles can be found here and here.
Thanks to all who wrote in to tell us about this one ring!