Tolkien News

The One Ring that ruled Tolkien’s inspiration?

Believe it or not, there’s actually an ancient gold ring out there, complete with it’s own inscription and curse. Better still, this particular ring is thought to be studied by J. R. R. Tolkien before he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


The ring, found in a Silchester field back in 1785, is dated back to Roman times and holds the Latin inscription, “Senicianus live well in God”. The phrase might seem uninteresting,  that is, until you learn that 80 miles away from the ring’s location, a curse tablet was found mentioning it. Turns out the Roman, Senicianus, who had the ring inscribed with his name, is thought to have actually stolen the ring from it’s owner, Silvianus. In revenge, Silvianus wrote a curse on the tablet, pleading, “To the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring … among those who bear the name of Senicianus to none grant health until he bring back the ring to the temple of Nodens.

So where does Tolkien come into all this? It is believed Lydney’s Director of Excavations, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, sought Tolkien’s expertise on the etymoloy of Nodens back in 1929.  Acting as Oxford’s Professor of Ango-Saxon at the time, Tolkien was known to have visited the Temple of Nodens regularly for research. It was only a year later that his work on The Hobbit began.

Forgotten, like The One Ring in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the Roman ring gathered dust in a library for many years. It’s story now rekindled, the 12g golden ring sits on display at The Vyne, in Hampshire. The exhibition includes riddles, puzzles and dwarf hunts throughout the mansion. The Vyne’s newly opened “Hidden Realm” playground is sure to keep young Hobbits entertained, while the tea room caters to the adults with their Tolkien-inspired menu. In association with the Tolkien Society, the “Ring Room” also houses Tolkien memorabilia, and leaves the question to whether the ancient ring might actually be the ring that inspired Tolkien, up to the influx of curious visitors.

While the mystery still remains, the Tolkien Society’s education officer, Lynn Forest-Hill,  reassures fans, “We were delighted to partner the National Trust in this project, and to assist with research that may shed further light on the history of this mysterious piece of gold.”

Here’s to hoping they uncover the truth about the ring, not to mention the thief, Senicianus, and his fate.

So, what is the verdict, fans? Do you think this long forgotten ring was truly the inspiration behind Tolkien’s One Ring to rule them all?

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  1. victorialadybug says:

    This is fascinating!

  2. Very interesting!

  3. Entirely possible. Who knows where the seeds of imagination may come from?

  4. Philip Kosloski says:

    Like most things in Tolkien’s life, I am sure this is one of the many influences. Yet, still fascinating!

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