In England, a retired merchant navy engineer discovered a treasure that would have made his country’s most popular folk hero proud. Graham Harrison, a 64-year-old metal detector enthusiast, discovered a gold signet ring that once belonged to Nottingham’s Sheriff.
The find was made on a farm in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire, approximately 26.9 miles from Sherwood Forest. The forest is well-known throughout the world as the mythological home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. In Medieval times, a central road that traversed the forest was notorious for being an easy place for bandits to rob travelers traveling to and from London.
The forest is now designated as a National Nature Reserve. It is an important conservation area because it contains ancient oaks dating back thousands of years.
“It was the first big dig after lockdown on a glorious day. We were searching two fields. Other detectorists kept finding hammered coins but I’d found nothing,” Harrison said according to the Daily Mail. “Then I suddenly got a signal. I dug up a clod of earth but couldn’t see anything. I kept breaking up the clod and, on the last break, a gold ring was shining at me. I broke out into a gold dance.”
Harrison had the ring authenticated by the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. After some digging, they discovered that it was once owned by Sir Matthew Jenison, the Sheriff of Nottingham between 1683 and 1684.
The first accounts of Robin Hood, then known as Robyn Hode, appear in the 12th century, several hundred years before Sir Matthew was appointed sheriff.
But there’s no doubt that the archer and Merry Men leader would have been overjoyed to learn that an ordinary man had obtained the Sheriff of Nottingham’s ring.
In 1683, Sir Matthew was knighted and appointed as a commissioner to investigate decaying trees in Sherwood Forest. In 1701 he was elected to Parliament. However, a series of lawsuits stemming from shady land deals would eventually ruin him, and he died in prison in 1734.
Gold Ring that Belonged to Real Sheriff of Nottingham.— Ancient Origins (@ancientorigins) April 1, 2022
Read more: https://t.co/tOaYr0dqRL pic.twitter.com/K7rhf2E62O
The gold signet ring bears the coat of arms of the Jenison family, who became wealthy after a treasure trove of valuables was left for safekeeping during the English Civil War. The Jenisons took the valuables because they were never claimed.
Harrison decided to sell the ring to someone who understands its significance.
March Historica & Coin Auction. 24 March — 25 March. The Sheriff of Nottingham’s gold signet ring #Historica #Auction @HansonHistorica— Hansons🇭 (@HansonsUK) March 23, 2022
Check out HansonsAuctions’s video! #TikTok https://t.co/vaJVz5I175 pic.twitter.com/cbdwbWrqdH
“There can’t be many people who’ve found anything like that. I’m only selling it because it’s been stuck in a drawer,” Harrison said. “I hope it will go to someone who will appreciate its historical value.” Hansons Auctions sold it at auction for £8,500 ($11,115).
WOW! The final moments as the Sheriff of#Nottingham ring goes under the hammer… @HansonHistorica @HansonsAuctions@nottslive@BBCNottingham pic.twitter.com/NLssFdaksL— Hansons🇭 (@HansonsUK) March 24, 2022
Let us hope that the man who sold the ring does what Robin Hood would do with a piece of jewelry that adorned the hand of a nobleman whose family made money by stealing from others. He’d surely take the auction proceeds and give them to the poor.