I communicated via email with the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s FLO (Finds Liaison Officer) for Bedfordshire, Mr Julian Watters. He looked at pictures of our finds yesterday, and he suggested the ring I found was early modern, rather than medieval, and that it wasn’t a brooch. From his email:
‘The ring things do turn up quite a lot and nobody’s really sure what they are. I don’t think it’s a brooch, as it doesn’t have a constriction for the pin to be attached; also it is probably not finished well enough. These rings have turned up in excavations in the early American settlements, so they go back a few hundred years’.
He was quite interested in Kurt’s ‘buckle’ on the other hand, and he wants to have a closer look. He wrote that ‘the decoration is similar to that which you see on Medieval harness pendants’.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme was established by the British government in 1997 as a way to involve detectorists, fieldwalkers, and others in preserving the UK’s archaeological heritage. Since the revision of the Treasure Trove laws in the ’90s, important/valuable finds end up in musuems, for the most part, and detectorists are both able and incentivized to funnel valuable archaeological data to researchers (http://finds.org.uk/). It is a global model for broadening public participation in the preservation of antiquities.