In the News: Elizabethan Ring Found and Henry VIII Portrait Dated Using Dendrochronology

A Lost Elizabethan* Ring 

An English metal detectorist literally struck gold when searching a Somerset field. 

Elizabethan Ring
RIng found in Somerset field dated between 1550 – 1650 (Photo: Mark Laban, Hensons via bbc.co.uk

Last year he found a gold ring that has been dated to between 1550 and 1650. After being registered as treasure, it was examined by the British Museum and has since been offered for sale. However, with no museums wishing to purchase it, it will be auctioned next month.

It is expected to sell for up to £10,000. The finder, who had permission to search the field where the ring was found, had an agreement with the landowner that proceeds from finds would be shared if anything of value was found. 

*Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, died in 1603 and was succeeded by King James I and VI, the first Stuart monarch on the English throne.

The Henry Portrait

A portrait of King Henry VIII has been dated to the year that he met Anne Boleyn by Australian scientists using dendrochronology – the science of dating wood by using its tree-rings.

Henry VIII (artist unknown), c.1525
Henry VIII (artist unknown), c.1525

The portrait, housed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, was examined by Dr Matthew Brookhouse of the Australian National University Fenner School of Environment and Society. Dr Brookhouse could clearly see the tree-rings in the oak panel beneath the layers of paint. It was then scanned using the Australian Synchrotron, a device which creates powerful x-rays that penetrate artworks without damaging them.

The Australian team collaborated with the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and University College London, England, comparing the results from the scanned portrait with Britain’s tree-ring databases. Astonishingly, the artwork was dated to 1525 and they determined that the original tree was grown in Sussex, England.

Knowing the year that the portrait was painted, enabled the curators to restore the artwork by removing layers of paint down to the original, discovering that Henry’s fingers were originally placed differently when first painted.

The investigation was undertaken to hopefully discover the artist who painted the portrait, it has previously been attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger and Jan Van Scorel, however, the artist was not uncovered with this examination. The portrait had been in storage since its purchase in 1961, but it is now on display at the Art Gallery NSW.

 

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-45145371

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/08/14/tree-rings-date-henry-viii-portrait-1525the-year-became-obsessed/

18 thoughts on “In the News: Elizabethan Ring Found and Henry VIII Portrait Dated Using Dendrochronology

    1. There used to be an archaeology tv show in the UK called Time Team, they often used dendrochronology, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have heard of it either. It’s fascinating that something so simple can be so useful to science and history.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I do like spotting news items that I’d like to share with the wider world. I live in greater London and sometimes the news here can be very London-centric so I’m trying to fight this. Although I fail with the next post! 🙂

        Like

      2. Even London-centric is welcome. 🙂 I have never been to London. While I love BBC (we have a version of BBC over here called BBC America and I adore Graham Norton) I have never actually been to England or anywhere near it. I have access to some British foods and such. (Penguins (I am addicted to these), Smarties, Bisto, Salad Cream, HP sauce, and such) I am always learning about the world around me.

        Liked by 1 person

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