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from the archive
Post Medieval Silver “MH” Signet Ring

Well, I just went on a research spiral. This exceptional silver signet ring dates from the 16th or 17th century, which is fascinating, but I started getting all worked up over the shoulders, which are decorated with the faces of some kind of monster/gargoyle dude. Lindsay noticed it looks a lot like the "Green Man" often found decorating European Medieval churches: a leering or screaming figure always surrounded with leaves or vines. He was thought by Victorian scholars to be an ancient Pagan symbol of fertility. The fact that a Pagan god could exist side-by-side with Christianity was hugely exciting to people in the 19th century; the industrial revolution was underway and spirituality was waning. The Green Man suggested a connection to a pre-Christian, spiritual relationship with the land, one people perhaps might still access. Fast forward to the late 20th Century and the Green Man has morphed into a countercultural icon. In the 60's and 70's it was adopted by New Agers who embraced ancient folkloric symbols and danced around with bare feet and flowers in their hair. In 2007, "Green Man" was the theme of the Burning Man festival. The problem is that despite decorating so many ecclesiastical sites, there's no evidence anywhere in ancient or Medieval texts that the Green Man was a Pagan thing. 21st century scholars argue that the whole concept was invented in 1939 “for a world which was beginning to need him, a world in which people were gradually realising how industrialisation was stealthily degrading our planet.” Still, we worship this human/foliage hybrid. 

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  • Materials


  • Age

    c. 16th-17th Century

  • Condition

    Very good

  • Size

    size 10, can be resized; 1.25cm x 1.43cm head, 2.7mm shank

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