The Thame Hoard

Gallery 2,
Medieval Gallery,
ground floor

 

Focus on the Object

The Thame Hoard is made up of five medieval gold rings and ten silver groats (c.1351 – c.1457). It was found on the edge of the River Thame in 1940.

The Thame Hoard: The Rings

The five rings contained within the Thame Hoard are all made of gold. Three of them include stones believed to have magical properties. Ring b is set with a peridot, ring c with a toadstone and ring d with turquoise. Peridots were believed to offer protection to their wearers; toadstone (in fact fossilised fish teeth and nothing to do with toads) was supposed to bring a man victory over his enemies; while turquoise was believed to change colour if placed near poison.

The remaining two rings include a personal ring (ring a), engraved with ornamental flowers and a dedication in French ‘tout pour vous’, and a reliquary ring (ring e). The latter is set with an amethyst in the shape of a double armed cross and may have once contained a holy relic. It is engraved on the back with the crucifixion and is inscribed (in Latin) ‘Remember me, O Lord’.

Ring a

Ring b

Ring c

Ring d

Ring e
The Thame Hoard: The Coins

Ten silver groats dating from c. 1357 – 1457) were recovered alongside the rings. The earliest coins in the hoard were minted in London and display the portraits of the monarchs Edward III, Richard II and Henry V. The remaining seven coins display the portrait of Henry VI and were minted in Calais.

The lack of wear on many of these coins shows they had not long been in circulation when they were lost. The coins are particularly important as they help us to date the hoard to after 1457 (on the basis of the date of the latest coin).