This is a wonderful ancient Roman coiled snake ring. C. 1st - 3rd Century AD. The bronze is in fine condition with good detail to the snakes head and scales. Lovely dark green patina and wearable.
Snakes featured heavily in the myths of ancient Greece and Rome. They were reviled for their ability to shed their skin, making them a symbol of regeneration and rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The goddess Salus and Asclepius all have associations with snakes. This type of Roman ring would have been worn for good health and was often sold at temples and shrines such as the healing waters of Aquae Sulis (Bath). These associations ensure their popularity endures today. Complete surviving types are eminently wearable on the modern finger and make popular Roman antiquities for sale.
The typology of Romano-British snake rings is based on over 40 examples in the Snettisham Jeweller's hoard. This is a collection of Romano-British jewellery and raw materials found during the construction of a house in the Norfolk village of Snettisham in 1985. The hoard, which is thought to be the working stock of a jeweller , was buried in a single clay pot around 155 AD. The pot contained partially or fully completed items of jewellery, and raw materials.
The hoard included a variety of completed Roman rings, illustrating the range of variation available to a provincial jeweller. There were many snake-rings, with a snake's head stamped in low relief at either end of a silver ribbon which would then be bent into shape. There were also Snake-bracelets, like the snake-rings, produced by stamping with a hammer and dies.
As the Snettisham hoard appears to have been from a single workshop, the typology may not necessarily have any wider relevance. It is also based on complete rings, with type A consisting of a single snake coiled or spiralled around the finger in a straight line, the head and tail turned outwards or backwards. Type B (penannular) are the commonest having two snake-head terminals, either thick and three-dimensional or flat and stylised; and type C two or more complete snakes. Most snake-rings found are incomplete (just the terminals) making them difficult to type.
Dimensions: Internal dia. 18mm (ring size R UK) External dia. 22mm approx.
Provenance: Ex. private collection, UK.