A valuable silver ring unearthed by an amateur metal detector user has helped prove Christians lived in Britain earlier than previously thought.
The signet ring was found near Swaffham, Norfolk, in February and declared treasure by an inquest in King’s Lynn on Tuesday.
It bears a Latin inscription saying “Antonius, may you live in God”, a phrase commonly found on the rings of Roman converts.
Now experts have dated the ring between 312 and 410AD, long before emperor Augustine’s official mission to convert the Britons in 597AD.
The find helps add further weight to the belief more Christians existed in Roman Britain than has been traditionally thought.
Adrian Marsden, finds officer based at Norwich Castle Museum, said: “The disc that would have been set into the bezel from a signet ring constitutes important evidence for Christianity in late Roman Norfolk.”
The inquest also declared a Viking silver ingot and four Iron Age coins as treasure.
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