In 1928, a few years before J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, some archaeologists asked him for help in the investigation of a curious Roman temple. Archaeologist Eric Mortimer Wheeler and his wife were excavating the Roman remains in Lydney Park in Uley, Gloucestershire, including a late 4th century temple in which inscriptions dedicated to the god Nodens, a mysterious deity, are identified.
Some experts tried to find out the etymological roots of the god's name in the hope of revealing his role and nature. Tolkien discovered that his name was of Irish origin and it belonged to pre-Christian Irish mythology, although it later became a Welsh legend.
But what the investigation of the name of a Celtic deity has to do with the immortal literary and cinematographic work of the author? Well, it seems that the place of investigation it does have some relevance to the world Tolkien would soon create. In it they found a Roman mine with intact shafts resembling the holes in hobbit houses, which led into the mine.
After the Romans left the place, the locals found this spooky place and believed that goblins and dwarves lived there, so they called it the Hill of the Dwarves. According to the Lydney Park curators, Tolkien he expressed great interest in folk tales and the history of this hill.
Then there is the ring. The great inscribed gold ring. 100 kilometers from Lydney Park and about 140 years before Wheeler's excavation, a farmer found a gold ring in Silchester. It was a unique ring, weighing 12 grams and too big for anyone, roughly 4th or 5th century.
The ring had ten carved blocks and a rather crude profile of Venus next to her name, in addition to a series of inscriptions among which was “Senicianus lives well in God”. An inscription that possibly became the famous phrase "a ring to rule them all, a ring to find them, a ring to draw them all and bind them in the dark”.
30 years later, before the temple was discovered, the Bathhurst family of Lydney Park excavated its garden and found a Roman tablet with a curse that mysteriously linked it to the Silchester ring. In it, Senicianus invoked the power of Nodens telling him that he had lost his ring and asking for justice. And it is that, as if it were Gollum himself, Senicianus probably lost his ring near Silchester.
It could be a coincidence, of course, but Senicianus is not a common name and the ring is not a common ring.
The Vyne, a British heritage mansion in south-east England, has open an exhibition to detail all these events, where the ring will be the centerpiece. The exhibition "tells the incredible story of this ring, of the Roman tablet that bears a curse for the man who stole it, and its fascinating connections to Tolkien”.
Almost graduated in Advertising and Public Relations. I started to like history in 2nd year of high school thanks to a very good teacher who made us see that we have to know our past to know where the future takes us. Since then, I have not had the opportunity to investigate more in everything that our history offers us, but now I can take up that concern and share it with you.