This late Roman gold finger-ring was found at Tangley, north of Andover, two years ago, by Ashley Duke. It qualified as ‘treasure’ under the definition of the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme oversaw its recording, valuation and publication (2014 T12).
It was acquired by the Hampshire Cultural Trust and the opportunity to display it coincided with the publication of the ring, firstly in an academic article in the journal Britannia, and secondly in a wide range of media outlets, as the beautifully cut intaglio, depicting a rather languid and impious looking Cupid, caught the imagination.
The nicolo intaglio (onyx with a blue surface and a dark heart) shows a winged, naked Cupid, leaning on a short spiral column. He holds aloft a flaming torch, which he will later use to burn Psyche in her guise as a butterfly.
Parallels for the ring are noted in the National Museum in Vienna, and closer to home, in one of the rings in the Silchester hoard, featured here just a few weeks ago.
The Trust invited Ashley Duke to be present at the ‘unveiling’ of his find at Andover Museum, and the Andover Advertiser was there to record the scene.
It has to be said that the valuation of such finds is not an easy task, is in the hands of an independent committee (museums are not directly involved) and is open to appeal. At the end of the day the addition of the Tangley ring to the Andover displays will ensure that it will be viewed and enjoyed by many.
Sally Worrell and John Pearce (2015). II. Finds Reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Britannia, 46, pp 355-381
Photos: Katie Hinds, Portable Antiquities Scheme; Dave Allen
Series by Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone.