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Lost rings and brooches: The archaeological treasures of Nantwich Museum

a photo of a gold ring with an opal in it

The Opal Ring. © Nantwich Museum

Kate Dobson of Nantwich Museum highlights some of the local archaeological treasures they keep in their Treasures display at the Museum

When thinking about the items that should be included we decided that the word treasure means different things to different people. But these objects are unique to Nantwich and the nearby areas and would have held significance to the people who once owned them; maybe personally but also in some cases as an outward sign of their status.

The Hurleston Brooch

a photo of a round decorated gold clasp brooch

The Hurleston Brooch. © Nantwich Museum

This gold brooch dates from the late 13th/early 14th century and was found by a metal detectorist in Hurleston in August 2009.

Measuring just 30mm across it is highly decorative and would have reflected the status of the owner. It would also have had the practical purpose of fastening garments. It was purchased with help from V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund and the Hedley Trust as well as donations from the public.

Memorial ring

a photo of a gold ring with an opal centre

Opal memorial ring. © Nantwich Museum

This is a 17th century memorial ring from Faddiley. If you take a closer look at the centre of the ring, initials, which were often made from plaited hair, can be seen. We think they say MC.

The faceted stone may be rock-crystal – not glass – and it has the standard rub over setting of the period.

Betrothal ring

a golden ring with handclasp design on the band and a ruby stone

Ruby betrothal ring. © Nantwich Museum

We think this is possibly a betrothal or wedding ring dating from the 13th or 14th century.

There is a garnet at its centre and clasped hands at the back of the band. Some lettering is present on the band and it is thought that the letters AMO can just about be distinguished, which means I love you in Latin.

Worleston ring

a photo of a gold coiled ring

The Worleston Ring. © Nantwich Museum

This unique ring dates from the late Roman or early Medieval period and is similar to a provincial Roman ring found at Hadrian’s Wall.

Whilst spiral rings were relatively common in Scandinavia during this period, they do not have the decorative triangular punch marks that this ring has. It has been decorated with a single punch which are quite similar to the ‘Hacksilver’ found in Viking Hoards.

The ring is very small and so would have been worn by someone with very thin fingers. It was found using a metal detector in Worleston and purchased using a bequest from a former museum volunteer, Betty Goodwin, in 2005.

Tudor dress hook

a photo of a silver brooch with floral decoration

Tudor dress hook. © Nantwich Museum

This is an excellent example of a Tudor cast silver-gilt dress hook. It was found at Baddiley by metal detectorist Thomas Bradley using a metal detector in 2012 and purchased at auction using public donations.

There is a curved hook on the back and this would have been paired with a loop for fixing. It would typically have been part of female clothing.

The front is decorated with five flower motifs and raised pellets.

Wilbraham Ring

a photo of a gold ring with a seal pattern coat of arms

The Wilbraham Ring. © Nantwich Museum

The Wilbrahams were one of the foremost families of Nantwich. The initials on the ring are thought to be those of Richard Wilbraham with the Wilbraham coat of arms. Richard was born in 1525 and lived in Townsend House, Welsh Row. He was to begin a family journal which contains accounts of significant local events such as the Great Fire of Nantwich in 1583. The journal spans for about 400 years.

Descendants of Richard were responsible for almshouses on Welsh Row (now the hotel restaurant The Cheshire Cat). The British Museum owns a gem ring which belonged to Roger Wilbraham (Richard’s second son).

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Nantwich Museum

Nantwich, Cheshire

The fascinating history of one of Cheshire's most attractive and historic towns is brought to life by Nantwich Museum. Located in Pillory Street, at the heart of the town, the museum has main galleries telling the story of Nantwich through the ages - Roman salt making, Tudor Nantwich's Great Fire,…

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