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Essex treasures including rare Viking ring on display at Colchester Castle

Objects include a 1000-year-old gold finger ring

Date issued: 8 November 2019

Treasures from across Essex are the focus of a new temporary display at Colchester Castle. Linked to its current exhibition, Adorn: Jewellery, The Human Story, the display will showcase some of Colchester Museums most recent acquisitions made under the Treasure Act 1996.

The Treasure Act 1996 ensures that museums across the country are offered the chance to purchase for its collections, archaeology found by members of the public, assuming certain criteria are met. Finds Liaison Officers working as part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (www.finds.org.uk) are based around the country and help to administer the Treasure Act by advising finders of potential Treasure on how to properly record the artefacts. The Essex Finds Liaison Officer is based within the Museums service in Colchester and deals with Treasure from all over the county.

Councillor Julie Young, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Performance and Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “Every year, over a thousand items of treasure are found in England and Wales, and Essex interestingly has a particularly high number of cases. I’m thrilled to say that none of the items have ever been on display before, so this is a unique opportunity for visitors to come to the Castle and see them.”

Items on display include two silver lockets, each heart shaped, which date to the 1600s, and an Anglo-Saxon silver belt decoration that has an animal’s head design. One of the most striking objects is a medieval gold brooch with OMNIA VINCIT AMOR (Love conquers all) engraved onto it. This would have been given as a gift over 500 years ago – the owner having lost it in a field near Wix, in Essex.

Also on display is a gold finger ring that dates to the Viking period over 1000 years ago. Found in Weeley, in Essex, this significant find is extremely exciting as very few Viking objects have been found in this part of the country. The Vikings were only briefly in Essex after being paid to leave the country following the Battle of Maldon in 991 AD. Not only is this ring very rare for the region, it’s also one of only a handful of examples of that style known in Britain.

The design of the ring is very similar to one found near Saffron Walden, which is currently on display in the Castle’s Adorn exhibition. It adds to the story of Viking goldsmiths in the region and their ability to create beautiful pieces of jewellery over 1000 years ago.

Essex Treasures, which is a single temporary display, is now open and will be at Colchester Castle until March 2020.

Adorn: Jewellery, The Human Story is open until 16 February 2020.

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