Did ancient Roman ring inspire Tolkien?

LONDON — Could a Roman gold ring linked to a curse have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create The One Ring?

Britain’s National Trust and the Tolkien Society are putting the artifact on display Tuesday for fans of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” to decide for themselves whether this was Tolkien’s precious ring of power.

Found in a field near a historic Roman town in southern England in 1785, the gold ring is inscribed in Latin, “Senicianus live well in God,” and inset with an image of the goddess Venus. It is larger than average, weights 12 grams, and is believed to date from the 4th century.

The ring is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found separately at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to a god named Nodens in Gloucestershire, western England. The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returned it to the temple.

An archaeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929.

The writer also visited the temple several times, and some believe he would have been aware of the existence of the Roman ring before he started writing “The Hobbit.”

“The influences most often cited for Tolkien’s creation of The One Ring usually take the form of literary or legendary rings,” said Lynn Forest-Hill, education officer for the Tolkien Society.

“It is, then, particularly fascinating to see the physical evidence of the (ring), with its links to Tolkien through the inscription associating it with a curse,” she said.

The gold ring is displayed at The Vyne, a historic mansion in southern England, starting Tuesday.

More in Local News

Waiting lists and growing demand for low-income preschools

There will be 1,000 more spots opening in the state next school year — far fewer than needed.

Snohomish County PUD general manager and CEO to retire

Craig Collar, 54, who will return to Montana, joined the utility as a senior manager in 2006.

Jensen Webster sorts through food stuffs at the Sultan High School in Sultan on March 14, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Sultan school children take charge to help their peers

The Sky Valley Youth Coalition has installed pantries at schools so kids can take food home.

Police seek female suspect in north Everett burglaries

She’s suspected of being an accomplice to a man who has committed five other burglaries.

North Machias Road bridge down to one lane until fixes made

A bridge south of Lake Stevens remains at one lane of travel… Continue reading

Everett woman found dead identified as 21-year-old

There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body of Brianna Leigh Nyer.

Ivar’s in Mukilteo closes for disinfection after illnesses

The Snohomish Health District said it’s not certain what caused some patrons to get sick.

A close friendship is lost to fire

An 88-year-old Smokey Point mobile home resident died despite a valiant effort by neighbors.

State will spend millions on task forces and reports

Here are eight undertakings that will incite possible action by lawmakers in the future.

Most Read