Medieval ring found in Kirkwall garden

(Picture courtesy of Orkney Library Photographic Archive)

The Medieval gold ring found in a Kirkwall garden. (Picture courtesy of Orkney Library Photographic Archive)

A Kirkwall woman working in her garden has unearthed a 700-year-old gold ring.

Mrs Evelyn Rendall of Waterfield Road, Kirkwall, was doing a spot of digging when she noticed an object glinting on one of the prongs of her fork. On closer investigation she realised it was a ring, but, assuming it was a piece of discarded costume jewellery, set it to one side and continued working.

But her discovery, a simple gold band with a setting for a gemstone, now looks like dating from between 1200 and 1300.

Mrs Rendall took the ring to the Orkney Museum. It was then passed on to the experts at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh for analysis.

They concluded that the artefact, which going by the size probably belonged to a man, was of a style found in the Low Countries and probably dates from a time the Hanseatic League – a merchant league of medieval German towns – operated in Orkney.

An intriguing element surrounding the discovery is that the Rendall’s garden had just benefitted from a load of soil extracted from the site of the new Kirkwall bowling green. Situated directly behind the Earl’s Palace, which post-dates the ring by around three centuries, the area may once have been an area of settlement clustered around the St Magnus Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace.

However, it is impossible to tell whether the ring was transported to Waterfield Road with the additional soil, or whether it had always lain just below the surface of the garden.

The ring will be going on display in the Orkney Museum until September, at which point it will be returned to Edinburgh for further analysis

At the same time it will be viewed by the Treasure Trove advisory panel, the official body that will decide whether to allocate the artefact back to Orkney.

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