Ring discovery suggests a previously unknown princely family in Southwest Jutland

Written on 02/21/2024
Mark Milligan

A ring discovered in Southwest Jutland, Denmark, suggests a previously unknown princely family who had strong connections with the rulers of France.

The ring is made from 22-carat gold and is set at the centre with a semi-precious cabochon almandine garnet gemstone. On the underside are two spirals and trefoil knobs, all characteristics of stylish forms found in Frankish craftmanship from the 5th to 6th century AD.

It was discovered at Emmerlev, just 10 kilometres from the site of the famous Golden Horns of Gallehus, and 2 kilometres from the ring rampart of Trælbanken, suggesting that the area was a centre of ruling elite for hundreds of years.

According to a press announcement by Denmark’s National Museum: “The ring likely reveals the presence of a previously unknown princely family in the area with close connections to the Merovingians – a royal family that ruled the Kingdom of France”.

Kirstine Pommergaard, a museum inspector at the National Museum, explained that the ring’s form and artistic style corresponds with examples worn by the Merovingian elite, and was probably a diplomatic gift or from a marriage alliance.

The garnet gemstone set in the ring is a well-known symbol of power in the Nordics, while Merovingian rings are typically set with a coin or a plaque, similar to a signet ring. This shows that the ring was intended to serve as a symbol of power in the Nordics.

Anders Hartvig, museum inspector at Museum Sønderjylland, said: "The Merovingians were interested in entering into a network with families and individuals who could control trade and resources in an area. Perhaps the princely family in Emmerlev had control over an area between Ribe and Hedeby and thus secured trade in the area."

Header Image Credit : National Museum

Sources : Via Ritzau - Gold ring reveals a possible new princely family in Southwest Jutland with an alliance with the Kingdom of France. National Museum