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Noonans to sell The Ashfield Ring

This “extremely rare” gold seal ring was found by detectorist Alan Rumsby in 2020. It is Noonans sale of “Jewellery, Watches, Silver and Objects of Vertu” on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. It is expected to fetch between £14,000-16,000.

The find

On 4 October 2020, Alan was out detecting on a stubble field in Norfolk that he had detected many times before, with little success. This time, after getting a signal on his XP Deus, he dug down 9 inches and unearthed the ring.

alan rumsby

Alan said “I have never found anything made of gold in over 10 years of detecting so was really excited. It was only after it was taken to the Museum that I realised how significant this discovery was! The British Museum had originally declared an interest in acquiring the ring but now two years later the ring has been disclaimed, so I am able to sell it.

Ashfield Ring

The ring was recorded at the PAS as NMS-71554C, which sheds some light on the owner of the ring:

Cast from Ashfield Ring.
Photo: Norfolk County Council CC By SA2.0

The lozenge of arms indicates that the ring belonged to an unmarried woman. The arms are divided into four of Ashfield, Tendring, Botelier and finally Mapersall.

The mullet in the centre of the arms represents a third son.

Putting all this information together leads to Dorothy Ashfield, born in 1594, who was the eldest daughter of Thomas Ashfield of Hopton in Suffolk. Thomas was the third son of Sir Robert Ashfield (1527-1578) and Frances Spring.

Nigel Mills, Artefact and Coin Expert at Noonans said “The ring is historically important because it is extremely rare to find a seal ring of this period that was worn by a woman. The find spot is close to the old hall of Brockdish which was owned by John Tendring whose family arms appears on the second quadrant of the ring bezel as a fess (horizontal band) with a crescent between two chevrons. The name Ashfield originates in Suffolk and Shropshire.”

The ring has been through the Treasure process and disclaimed. It is Lot 34 in Noonans sale with a pre-sale estimate of £14,000 – £16,000. Alan said “I intend to use the money, which will be shared with the landowner, on a holiday for my wife and myself”.

Auction update

The ring failed to sell at the auction on 12 March 2024

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