Metal detectors and the Tudors

Ring found by Steve Whitehead Photo Credit- Frank Dwyer

Ring found by Steve Whitehead Photo Credit- Frank Dwyer

When I think of metal detectors, I think of the ubiquitous old man on the beach searching for lost change. I had never thought of them being gateways to larger treasures until I started getting interested in British History. Even so, I am always amazed at what can be found by a lone person and their trusty metal detector.

Recently in Sinnington village, near Pickering in the North of England, Steve Whitehead made a discovery. He was poking about on a dig with his metal detector and found something tucked between two pieces of iron. He stuck it in his pocket and didn’t realize until later that he had a major find.

The gold and sapphire ring has lombardic script around the band that dates it from the 9th to 16th century. It has been estimated as worth up to 20,000 pounds or roughly $40,000. There is no way to know who the ring’s owner was, but there was one very famous owner of the manor house where it was found. The Lords Latimer had owned the manor at Sinnington, and the last Lord Latimer, John Neville was married to Catherine Parr. Catherine outlived him and became the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII. Catherine also went on to outlive her royal husband and finally be married after her own heart to Thomas Seymour. One can imagine that they noticed one another before the king’s death, but were wise enough not to say anything.

Although Catherine lived at Sinnington long before she was a royal wife, the romantic in me wishes that it was a wonderful story of Thomas Seymour passing her a token of love and her dashing it in a nearby bush because Henry was on his way. However, this is very much impossible. Perhaps she was out walking and it was loose? Perhaps it wasn’t hers at all, but one of her maids. The script places it as early as the 9th century, so it could quite easily not have been Catherine’s at all. Perhaps with further study we will learn more, but the possibilities are endless.

ER