With this ring…

Words by:
Colin Smale
Featured in:
February 2024

Colin Smale examines historical love tokens found on local farmland.

The three oddly bent silver coins featured here (PIC 2 – all found around Caistor) are bent for a very special reason. Have you ever heard the old Mother Goose nursery rhyme, ‘There was a crooked man’?

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

The crooked sixpence he found relates to a coin like one of these, they are love tokens. They were kept by the man or the woman in purse or pocket so their loved one was always near.

Of course they, like us, had their fallings-out, when no doubt the coin was angrily flung as far away as possible (we have all been there) and that’s when we find them on farmland.

A quick proposal followed by an unexpected quick acceptance might well catch a chap without a ring at that precise moment, and so he may well wind a piece of string or wire until he can find a nice ring. However, using a length of gold wire [PIC 1] is a surprise and does pose a few questions. Did this man of obvious means not have a gold ring with him? If he could lay his hands on some gold wire, what was his trade?

Of course, we can never know now, but as with many unearthed finds they pose more questions than we can sometimes answer.

Finally we have ‘macho-man’ in the shape of a silver Roman ring with an intaglio of the god of war, Mars [PIC 3]. This was found near Caistor.

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