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Home > Auctions > 20th February 2018 > Anglo-Saxon Gold Ring for Queen Aethelburh

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LOT 0389

GBP (£) 10,000 - 14,000
EUR (€) 11,840 - 16,570
USD ($) 12,770 - 17,870

1" (11 grams, 23mm overall, 19.59mm internal diameter (approximate size British T, USA 9 1/2, Europe 21.26, Japan 20)).

A gold finger ring with flat-section hoop, trapezoidal shoulders and discoid bezel; to each shoulder a reserved beast on a niello field within a beaded border; to the bezel, a beaded border and reserved Trewhiddle Style regardant beast; to the reverse, outlined text 'Æt / helb / vrh'.

Property of a Cambridgeshire gentleman; formerly in the private collection of the late John James Gallagher; acquired by him from an East Yorkshire collector in 1965; gifted by Mr James to his son in 1989. Accompanied by X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate number 00935-2018SR.

The spelling 'Æthelbvrh' represents the female personal name Æþelburh (or Æðelburh), normally Latinised as Ethelburga or Athelburg. There are several notable ladies with this name in the Anglo-Saxon sources, among them (i) a Queen of Wessex by marriage to King Ine (ca. 673-740) who destroyed the stronghold at Taunton, Devon; (ii) a Queen of Northumbria by marriage to King Edwin (616-632), who survived him and retired to her native Kent; (iii) an abbess (d. circa 664) who founded the abbey at Barking, Essex, and is commemorated as St Ethelburga the Virgin with a church in the City of London. The ring dates from around two centuries after any of these ladies so could not have been their personal possession. It might nevertheless have been commissioned to commemorate one or other of them, or an otherwise unknown Æðelburh. The name is of a common type among the upper classes in Anglo-Saxon times.