A gold Elizabethan signet or 'seal' ring

Contributed by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

A ring that may have belonged to Shakespeare. Copyright The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Signet rings were worn on the little finger of the left hand and were used to mark the users initials on wax seals.Nearly two hundred years after Shakespeare's death, the gold, 16th-century, 'WS' initialed seal ring was discovered by labourers working in a field next to the burial ground of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Intriguingly, it would appear that Shakespeare had originally intended to endorse his will by attaching his seal to the document. However he later crossed-out the word 'seal' at the bottom and just signed the document. Had Shakespeare lost his seal ring?
The discovery of the ring caused much excitement and in a letter to the poet John Keats, in March 1818, the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon wrote, 'I shall certainly go mad! In a field at Stratford-upon-Avon, in a field that belonged to Shakespeare, they have found a gold ring and seal, with the initial thus - W.S. and a true lover's knot between. If this is not Shakespeare who is it?'

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