Medieval ring brooch with Gnostic inscribed magic formula

Medieval ring brooch with Gnostic inscribed magic formula

Code: 11268


This is a gold gilded medieval ring-brooch, dating to the 13th - 14th century AD. Ring-brooches are the most common type medieval brooch to survive and had a practical function: to fasten tunics, especially at the neck. Shaped as rings, with a long central pin, these brooches varied enormously in size and could be tiny, smaller than a fingernail. Ring-brooches were made of costly gold or silver, or of much cheaper copper or pewter. They were worn mostly until the late fourteenth century when changing fashions in dress included more closely tailored clothes and the growing use of button fastenings.

This example is inscribed on all sides (3) with a magical charm for protection against fever. it reads as '+A+G+L+A+AVEMARIAGRA'. some of the letters are backward and others on the side. Part of the lettering is quite worn and has not been fully translated. 'AGLA' was a magical formula used to ward off fever. It came from the initials of the Hebrew words 'ate gebir leilam adonai' ('Thou art mighty for ever, Lord'). The other part of the inscription is in Latin and stands for 'Ave Maria gracia plena', meaning 'Hail Mary full of grace'. Hebrew retained its reputation as a language with great mystical powers after the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. The brooch is missing the pin but retains plenty of charm and it's nice how the remaining gold gilding has survived in the lettering giving a good contrast in colour. 

OBJECT: Ring-brooch

CULTURE: Medieval

DATE: c. 1200 - 1350 AD

MATERIAL: Bronze / gold-gilded

SIZE: 39.07mm x 5.27mm

WEIGHT:  14.70 grams

PROVENANCE: Metal detector find from Thorpe Hesley, South Yorkshire.