THE meaning behind a mysterious inscription on a silver ring pulled from the earth in Swindon was one of everlasting love, according to the British Museum.
The piece of jewellery, lined with gold and made with elaborate detail, carries the words AL.WAYES.ON followed by a sprig. The Adver reported on Wednesday how it was among 39 artefacts which were declared ‘treasure trove’ to the county coroner over the past three years. Others included a fragment of silver buckle found in Lydiard Tregoze, which depicts a creature with a tail and a two-clawed foot, and Roman coins discovered in Pewsey bearing the names Honorious, Arcadius and Julian. Katie Hinds, finds liaison officer for Wiltshire, speculated the piece of jewellery found in Swindon could have been a betrothal ring.
The romantic meaning has now been confirmed by the British Museum, which processes finds in England and Wales. The artefact dates to between the 16th and 17th centuries and the message is similar to another reading ‘alwayes one’, which was found on a ring in East Riding, Yorkshire. It has also appeared in the Latin form ‘semper una’, which means ‘always one’ or ‘united forever’. The declaration of love, made about 450 years ago, was part of a fashion in the 16th Century to condense romantic sayings into phrases short enough to engrave on jewellery.
Caroline Barton, assistant treasure registrar at the British Museum, said: “The inscription is also known as a posy, hence these types of rings are commonly called posy rings. “Posies are romantic or moral mottos or poems that were commonplace on rings exchanged between lovers.
“Posy rings were used as a lover’s token, wedding ring or as a means of showing regard. The motto on this ring has romantic connotations and could very well have been a lover’s token.”
Posy rings have become a popular buy at present-day auctions, she added.
The Old Town Museum and Art Gallery, in Bath Road, hopes to acquire the ring, which was found in December. It bears witness to the craftsmanship of the time with traces of gold gilding on its inside surface and a series of intricate lines.
All finds of gold and silver objects and groups of coins more than 300 years old have to be reported under the Treasure Act 1996. This replaced the ‘treasure trove’ process, though the phrase is still used by local coroners.
Details of the finds in Wiltshire were provided to the Adver by the British Museum.