Devotional treasures unearthed in Wales

Some 10 finds from the Roman, medieval and post-medieval periods, made by members of the public between 2014 and 2018, have been declared treasure by HM Coroner for North East Wales. The finds include: two Roman coins; medieval jewellery, with a silver-gilt crucifix; a silver ring; two silver annular brooches and a medieval coin hoard; two post-medieval gold rings and a silver seal matrix.

A late 14th- or early 15th-century silver finger 'fede', or fidelity, ring, showing two clasped hands, indicating friendship or love, or betrothal, was found near Wrexham; as was a small silver annular brooch of a four-lobed, or quatrefoil, shape with the inscription AVE MARIA (Hail Mary) on the front in a Lombardic script. The brooch can be dated by its style, and from other similar finds elsewhere, to the 14th century.

A second silver annular brooch, from the 13th or 14th century, decorated with an incised zig-zag pattern on one side, and a crudely incised, garbled inscription, also in Lombardic lettering – possibly an attempt to recreate a religious inscription – on the other, was found in Flintshire.

A 15th-century silver gilt crucifix pendant (above), discovered in Denbighshire, has a figure of Christ in a loincloth on one side and a figure of Mary with the Christ Child on the other. It would have been worn as an item of personal adornment for devotional purposes.

A second fede ring, a plain gold band with 'After consent ever content' inscribed on the inside, from the 17th to early 18th century, was discovered in Conwy; and a 17th-century oval silver seal matrix engraved with a bird, possibly a dove, facing right and holding an olive branch in its beak, was found in Denbighshire. In the post-medieval period, personal seals were owned and used by both men and women to authenticate documents.

A gold mourning ring, discovered in Wrexham, is engraved with a skull flanked by a pattern of stylised flowers and scrolls, inlaid with black enamel. The inside of the ring is inscribed with the text 'In remembrance of TA'. Mourning rings, popular in the post-medieval period, were worn to remind grieving friends and relatives of the deceased.

A hoard of English medieval coins, one gold and 10 silver (above), minted in the reigns of Edward I (1272–1307), II (1307–27) and III (1327–77), and Henry V (1413–22) and VI (1422–61), probably deposited in the 1460s during the Wars of the Roses, was unearthed in 2017. All the finds mentioned except one will be acquired by accredited local museums in North East Wales.

Lindsay Fulcher