A RARE ANGLO-SAXON INSCRIBED GOLD RING
A RARE ANGLO-SAXON INSCRIBED GOLD RING

8TH CENTURY A.D.

Details
A RARE ANGLO-SAXON INSCRIBED GOLD RING
8TH CENTURY A.D.
Of octagonal form, the inscription in Roman characters with punched serifs, short horizontal lines marking abbreviated words above seven of the letters, and a 'punctuation pause' mark at the end of the inscription which may be translated in two versions:

1) Deo Li/liosa/In D/eo Beata/Dominus I/n Ai/ternum B/eatum In
"In God (made) lily-white, In God (made) blessed, (May) the Lord (be) blessed in eternity"

2) Deo Li/liosa/In D/eo Beata/Dominus I/na I/ternum B/eatum In
"In God (made) lily-white, In God (made) blessed, (May) the Lord Ina (be) blessed in eternity"
.5/8 in. (1.6 cm.) diam.

Lot Essay

If the second interpretation of the inscription, offered above, is correct, the name Ina may offer a more precise context for the ring and its inscription. Given the fine quality of the object itself, one might associate the inscription with Ine, King of Wessex 688-726 A.D., the son of Cenred, under-king in Dorset.

Ine extended the territory of the kingdom of the West Saxons by wars with the men of Kent, whom he defeated in 694 A.D. and with the Britons led by Geraint, King of Dumnonia, whom he defeated, reaching the River Hayle in Cornwall by 722 A.D. Ine is said to have established the town of Taunton as part of a plan to stabilise this part of the country. Ine's descendant, King Egbert of Wessex, finally completed the process of conquest begun by Ine through his victory at the battle of Hingston Down, near the Tamar in 838 A.D. The activity of Ine's reign may be characterised as the consolidation of Saxon rule in the South-west and, in effect, the creation of the kingdom subsequently inherited by King Alfred. Ine established a body of law that remained the basis for the organisation of Wessex until Alfred's later re-codification of the legal system.

Ine was notable, also, in his patronage of the Church. His laws confirm the inextricable connection between secular and church powers. The foundation of bishoprics at Sussex and Wight followed the West Saxons' advances east of Southampton Water. In 705 A.D. Ine established a bishopric at Sherborne, over which Aldhelm ruled as the first bishop. He also had connections with the Anglo-Saxon saint and missionary, Boniface, sending him on diplomatic missions early in the 8th Century A.D.

Bede recounts that towards the end of his life Ine resigned the throne and went on pilgrimage to Rome "being desirous to spend some part of his pilgrimage upon earth in the neighbourhood of the holy places, that he might obtain to be more readily received into the fellowship of the saints in heaven" (cf. R. Fletcher, Who's Who in Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England, London, 1989, p. 64). The king in fact died in Rome sometime after 726 A.D. and was himself venerated as a saint by the people of Rome.

In this context the inscription might reasonably be regarded as a memorial for the soul of Ine, King of Wessex, following his death.
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