I love stories about forgotten things, about strange bits of history that have had unknown influence, and connecting the past and present in odd ways. Today, I bring you such a story.
The One Ring, the golden ring of Sauron found (stolen) by Bilbo Baggins and eventually destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom by Frodo, Sam and (unintentionally) Gollum, was inspired by a real ring.
This ancient ring was found in a farmer’s field in 1785. The inscriptions are in Latin and it bears the image of the goddess Venus. It’s linked to a curse tablet from the temple of Nodens. Tolkien, who was researching Nodens at the time, was shown the ring by a friend and it apparently inspired him to make the Macguffin of his epic story a magic ring, but one that was also cursed.
The real ring, however, passed out of mind for an age, lingering in the vaults of a library for years after Tolkien’s visit. Now it’s being displayed in the Vyne museum in a “ring room” that discusses the connection between this real ring and Tolkein’s fictional One Ring.