Was The Hobbit ring real?

“One very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. He had a ring, a golden ring, a precious ring.”

A new exhibition opening today in the UK raises the intriguing possibility that the Roman ring in the case, and the ring of power in J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, and in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, are one and the same.

As Dave Green, the property manager, explains, there’s more to the story than the ring – an iron-age site with ancient mine workings known as “the Dwarf’s Hill”, a curse on the thief who stole the ring, and a strong link to Tolkien himself.

Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford before he found fame as an author, with the publication of The Hobbit in 1937, and the first of the Rings trilogy in 1954. He certainly knew the story of the curse and the ring, and was researching the subject two years before he began work on The Hobbit.

The ring was in the collection of the Chute family – which for generations was interested in politics, collecting, and antiquarian research – for centuries before the house came to the National Trust in the 1930s. “I was looking for the ring to show a visitor, and I walked right past the case with it – that’s when I decided we really had to make more of this amazing thing,” Green said.

As well as the exhibition room, created with the help of the Tolkien Trust, the house now has a dwarf trail for children and a new playground with circular tunnels and green hillocks recalling Bilbo’s home, Bag End. The ring was probably found in 1785 by a farmer ploughing a few miles away within the walls of Silchester, one of the most enigmatic Roman sites in the country – a town which flourished before the Roman invasion, was abandoned by the 7th century and was never reoccupied.  There are no details of exactly when it was found, but historians assume the farmer sold it to the history loving wealthy family at The Vyne.

It was a strikingly odd object, 12g of gold so large that it would only fit on a gloved thumb, ornamented with a peculiar spiky head wearing a diadem, and a Latin inscription reading: “Senicianus live well in God”. A few decades later and 100 miles away, more of the story turned up: at Lydney in Gloucestershire, a Roman site known locally as the Dwarf’s Hill, a tablet with an inscribed curse was found.

A Roman called Silvianus informs the god Nodens that his ring has been stolen. He knows the villain responsible, and he wants the god to sort them out: “Among those who bear the name of Senicianus to none grant health until he bring back the ring to the temple of Nodens.”

Lydney was re-excavated by the maverick archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who called in Tolkien in 1929 to advise on the odd name of the god – and also spotted the connection between the name on the curse and the Chute family’s peculiar ring. It seems that Senicianus only got as far as Silchester before he lost his booty.  Dr Lynn Forest-Hill of the Tolkien Trust said Tolkien’s source was usually assumed to be literary sources, including the Niebelung legends. “It is, then, particularly fascinating to see the physical evidence of the Vyne ring, with its links to Tolkien through the inscription associating it with a curse.”

The ring is now on display with a first edition of The Hobbit and a copy of the curse.

Article via The Guardian website – http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/02/hobbit-tolkien-ring-exhibition

Reflections On Middle Earth – Booktopia’s resident Tolkienist Christopher Cahill shares his thoughts on The Hobbit

To say that I’m a fan of the works of Professor J. R. R. Tolkien is an understatement. I’ll admit I was a little late to the party tree in embracing the world of Middle-Earth but after seeing the first trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring I was hooked.

I became a little obsessed. And when I say a little, I mean a lot. I purchased every book I could get my hands on and spent hours upon hours absorbing Tolkien’s works and history. The thought of becoming a Tolkien scholar crossed my mind a few times but I’m just not willing to learn Elvish. There are lines this nerd just won’t cross.

By the time The Return of the King had come into cinemas I had already grown a beard and my long hair was coming along nicely. I call these my Aragorn years. I also met the love of my life that year who, luckily for me, shared my interest in all things Tolkien. Our first date was watching The Return of the King. Our first overseas trip was to New Zealand so we could visit all the film locations. I was in nerd heaven.

That was almost nine years ago. I don’t have a beard or long hair anymore, I don’t smoke my pipe and my Tolkien library is a bit dusty. But I still love Tolkien’s books and have watched the films more times than I’ll admit to. Naturally I was eagerly anticipating the release of The Hobbit and my expectations were high. After almost nine long years of waiting we finally got to sit down and watch it in glorious 3D.

For me it was like coming home. Returning to Bag End accompanied by Howard Shore’s amazing score was a joyful experience and I loved every minute of it. Martin Freeman is perfect as the younger Bilbo Baggins; in fact all the casting is perfect. The Dwarves steal the show in parts and the return of some familiar faces is a welcome sight.

But for me the films biggest achievement is that it was fun to watch. It was the sense of joy that pulled me back into Middle-Earth and my very loud; walrus like laugh rang throughout the cinema. If I knew the words to the Dwarven songs I would have been singing along with a mug of ale in my hand.

The Hobbit is visually astounding and the 3D is the best I have seen yet.

There’s been some criticism of the films use of a higher frame rate, even people saying that it made them nauseous watching it. But seriously, were those people smoking pipe weed? I couldn’t fault it.

The other major controversy is that The Hobbit, hardly a long book, will be spilt into three films and there will be material added from Tolkien’s other books to flesh out the story. And while Peter Jackson and his merry band have once again taken some serious liberties with Tolkien’s work I feel it works well.

The films only fault is that it has no real ending and we have to wait another year before we get to see the continuation of Bilbo and the Dwarves’ journey. Thankfully Tolkien’s novel has been in print for seventy-five years so the impatient among us won’t have to wait.

The first thing I did when we got back home was dust off my illustrated edition of The Hobbit. I was back in Middle-Earth and the urge to grow my hair was high.


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Tess Gerritsen, author of The Silent Girl the latest in the Rizzoli and Isles series, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Tess Gerritsen

author of The Silent Girl  the latest in the Rizzoli & Isles series

Ten Terrifying Questions

———————–

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in San Diego, California (USA) and raised in a middle-class suburb where I was the only child of Asian descent in my school

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve, I wanted to be a writer. When I was eighteen, I wanted to be a Continue reading

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Love is All Around: Let Me Count the Ways – Part Four

There is a moment in the film Love Actually when the old rocker, Billy Mack, played by Bill Nighy, realises that the greatest love of his life is his manager, Joe. And he tells him so.

This is a surprising admission, it surprises Joe, but it is also a wonderfully perceptive admission, because Billy Mack, peering through a cloud of silly prejudice and customary social expectations, has discovered the truth – Joe is the love of his life.

Finding the truth is something very few of us do.

What is more surprising is that, try as hard as I might, I cannot recall an occasion like it in any of the books I have read.

We know so many occasions when it might have happened – think of Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings. There was ample opportunity for these two friends to realise the true nature of their relationship and express it as completely as Billy Mack. Each is more important to the other than anyone else is or could be.

Think of the many missed opportunities - Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, Herbert Pocket and Pip, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Asterix & Obelix, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, Noddy and Big Ears…

Love is all around us but because we are so intent on finding love, we sometimes don’t see it.

This Valentine’s Day might just be the day when you open your eyes and see that George Clooney, or that Victoria’s Secret model you’ve set your sights upon, is not and never will be your true love.

And instead, you come to accept the fact that your smelly flatmate or your ethically challenged business partner, or your boorish best friend or your garage band’s tone deaf lead singer is, in truth, your true love and deserves to know exactly how you feel.

True Love: it’s never where you think it is.

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