Could a Roman gold ring linked to a curse have inspired JRR Tolkien to create The One Ring? Britain's National Trust and the Tolkien Society have put the artifact on display this week for Lord of the Rings fans to decide for themselves. The gold ring is inscribed in Latin, "Senicianus live well in God," and is believed to date from the 4th century. It is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found at the site of a Roman temple. The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returned it to the temple.
So where does Middle Earth come in? An archaeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Oxford University professor, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929. The writer also visited the temple several times, and some believe he would have been aware of the existence of the Roman ring before he started writing The Hobbit. "The influences most often cited for Tolkien's creation of The One Ring usually take the form of literary or legendary rings," says an education officer for the Tolkien Society. "It is, then, particularly fascinating to see the physical evidence of the [ring], with its links to Tolkien through the inscription associating it with a curse." (Read more Britain stories.)