Stirrup Rings were fashionable from the 12th century to the 15th century and are defined by their simple elegance. The name ‘stirrup’ suggests a horse’s stirrup, as its style indicates, or a Gothic arch.
The ring on display at Harborough Museum consists of gold and is formed in a ‘D’ shape, raising to a sapphire setting.
This style of ring was popular with bishops, as the gems used traditionally had religious significance. The ring would be worn on the middle finger of the right hand, sometimes over gloves.
During the Middle Ages jewellery was a symbol of status for the nobility and wealthy, showing their position in society. It was during the 14th century that Sumphiary Laws were initiated, limiting the amount of gold, silver or gemstones ‘commoners’ could own. These laws were meant to curb opulence and promote frugality by regulation.