A 15th century gold and table-cut sapphire ring, £14,000 at Noonans.

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A metal-detecting find, it came for sale on June 13 at Noonans (24% buyer’s premium) in London with an estimate of £4000-6000 but pushed on to £14,000.

As recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database, the ring was unearthed in 2019 in the village of Tarrant Crawford in Dorset, less than 200m from the Church of St Mary the Virgin.

The medieval church is all that remains of Tarrant Abbey, an important and powerful Cistercian nunnery, founded in the 13th century by Ralph de Kahaines (of nearby Tarrant Keyneston). It closed during the Reformation.

Heavenly sapphires

Sapphires have long been associated with the church due to their designation in medieval lapidaries as representative of heavenly virtue and fidelity. In Christian iconography the white lily symbolises chastity and is associated with the Virgin Mary.