Is this the original "One Ring" that inspired Tolkien's tales?
An ancient Roman ring in the collection of the stately English home known as "the Vyne" is now on display at the estate next to a first edition of Tolkien's The Hobbit as part of an exhibit exploring the connection between the ring's history and the legendary fantasy author.
The ring is made of about 12 grams of gold and is inscribed in Latin with the phrase "Senicianus live well in God." When and how it was discovered are unknown, but for centuries it was owned by the Chute family, who owned the Vyne before the house became part of the U.K.'s National Trust in the 1930s. The ring's story got more interesting when an ancient tablet was unearthed at a Roman site in Glouchestire known as "Dwarf's Hill." The tablet bore the inscription "Among those who bear the name of Senicianus to none grant health until he bring back the ring to the temple of Nodens." The inscription gave rise to the belief that the ring was stolen and its owner subsequently cursed.
Though it's not certain, it's believed that Tolkien knew about the ring and its backstory, and possibly spent some time researching it in the years leading up to The Hobbit's 1937 publication. To honor this connection, the ring and a copy of the tablet are now on display at the Vyne next to the iconic fantasy novel. To accompany the exhibit, the house's tea room now features a Tolkien-inspired menu, and a section of the estate's walled gardens have also been transformed into a Middle-earth-inspired play area called "The Hidden Realm." You know, for the kids.
So if you happen to be in southern England anytime soon, head out to the Vyne and check it out. For more details on the exhibit, visit the Vyne's website.
(Via Sky News)