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Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Thursday, 2 September 2010 14:34 UK
Anglo-Saxon treasure goes on display at Berkeley Castle

Anglo-Saxon gold ring (Photo: Mark Horton)
The Anglo-Saxon ring was last shown in public in 1972

A rare Anglo-Saxon gold ring, which featured on a new BBC archaeology programme, is to go on display at Berkeley Castle.

The gold ring is believed to have been found as long ago as the eighteenth century and was first recorded in the castle's collections in 1860.

However, in recent years it has only been shown in public once at an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1972.

We have been uncovering increasingly important Anglo-Saxon metalwork finds.
Professor Mark Horton

Now, thanks to renewed interest in Anglo-Saxon Berkeley due to the University of Bristol's excavations, the castle authorities have decided to display the ring for a limited period during September.

Tonight's programme, Digging for Britain, which is presented by Dr Alice Roberts, also features excavations at Berkeley carried out by archaeologists from the University of Bristol who have uncovered evidence for a Dark Age monastery before the castle was constructed in the eleventh century.

The ring is an exceptional example of goldwork, with intricate filigree work, and four beasts heads with inlaid blue and yellow glass eyes.

Artistic achievement

The quality of the craftsmanship places it as one of the finest pieces from the Anglo-Saxon period.

Dr Leslie Webster, who was able to examine the ring for the BBC programme, dated it to the early part of the ninth century.

Excavations at Berkeley Castle during 2010, exposing parts of the Anglo-Saxon monastery (Photo: Mark Horton)
Parts of an Anglo-Saxon monastery were uncovered at Berkeley in 2010

This was the period of great artistic achievement in the English Midlands initiated by Mercian king Offa (757-796) which continued until the Viking raids of the mid ninth century.

The archaeologists have been working at a number of sites in and around the castle and the nearby Edward Jenner Museum in the search for the Anglo Saxon monastery.

Professor Mark Horton, BBC TV presenter and co-director of the project said: "We have been uncovering increasingly important Anglo-Saxon metalwork finds from the ninth and tenth centuries, so we decided to call in the TV cameras to show what we had found.

It seemed to be an ideal opportunity to get the ring out again and to re-evaluate its significance."

Digging for Britain, Anglo-Saxons can be seen on the BBC iPlayer.

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