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The Kingmoor Ring: The Magical Ring That Inspired Lord of the Rings

“One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.” The Lord of the Rings is a classic (and popular) fictional trilogy written by JRR Tolkien in the twentieth century. If you haven’t read the books, maybe you’ve seen the movies. The epic fantasy is based on a powerful ring and the struggle and intent to destroy it before it destroys the known world. Did you know the ring was inspired by a REAL Viking ring that resides in the British Museum? Learn about Tolkien and the Kingmoor Ring here.

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

JRR Tolkien, English professor and Father of Modern Fantasy, wrote The Lord of the Rings in the mid twentieth century. Only decades later, it had become a worldwide phenomenon. And the popularity has only grown with the release of the blockbuster movies in the past two decades. But something most fantasy fans don’t know about Tolkien – he had an interest in magic and the occult. His work was inspired by much of his mythological studies, namely Anglo-Saxon myths featuring trolls, elves, wizards, dwarves and more. JRR Tolkien was part of a writers’ club called Inklings along with another classical fantasy writer CS Lewis. Maybe you’ve heard of him?

The Kingmoor Ring inspired Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

JRR Tolkien and the Kingmoor Ring

Tolkien, well-versed in Anglo-Saxon lore and the Elder futhark, was inspired by a Viking artifact known as the Kingmoor Ring. The Kingmoor Ring was a significant archaeological find in the early 1800’s, being a gold ring of Viking origin inscribed with thirty runes. It is believed the ring was created and worn in the ninth century by a Viking to ward off illness. JRR Tolkien saw the ring and thought “the ring of power”. Henceforth, he wrote The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy sequel to the earlier Hobbit book of literary fame.

The Magical Role of the “Finger-Ring” in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries

The Kingmoor Ring is one of forty tenth-century Medieval finger rings found in England over the past few centuries. According to Perry Mesney at Cardiff University, the finger ring during this age was worn by wealthy individuals OR by the literate. And these runic rings were worn on a regular basis, indicating the Kingmoor Ring and others were employed as amulets or talismans. Scholars believe these Medieval runic rings were made and inscribed by runemasters. In the case of Tolkien’s Ring of Power, it wasn’t runemasters but elfen kings…close enough!

The Runes on the Kingmoor Ring

The ring that’s described in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus the ring prop on the movies, looks similar to the Kingmoor Ring. You can compare below. But what are those weird markings on the Kingmoor Ring and Tolkien’s Ring of Power? Elder futhark runes, an ancient Anglo-Saxon/Norse alphabet used as an alphabet that also had spiritual significance. Runes are a key component in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. They’re featured on the Ring of Power, of course, but also above doorways and in other magical places. Why was Tolkien so taken by the ancient runic alphabet and the Kingmoor Ring? Perhaps he used runes himself in his spiritual pursuits. He was, after all, an occultist of sorts.

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was inspired by the Kingmoor Ring
Hobbiton in New Zealand

So What Does the Kingmoor Ring Say?

The Kingmoor Ring doesn’t just have inscribed runes, it’s also inscribed with bind-runes. A bind-rune is a combination of two or more runes written/inscribed together for a specific sacred spiritual purpose. For instance, I could draw/write the rune Gebo together with the rune Algiz to spiritually protect my marriage (Gebo significes a union and Algiz signifies protection). Therefore, the Kingmoor Ring had a magical purpose to protect its wearer from illness and/or misfortune or evil spirits. Our ancestors believed illnesses were caused BY evil spirits. So – double purpose.

Here are the runes inscribed on the Kingmoor Ring:

᛭ᚨᚱᛦᚱᛁᚢᚠᛚᛏᛦᚱᛁᚢᚱᛁᚦᚩᚾᚷᛚᚨᚴᛏᚨᛈᚩᚾ / ᛏᚨᚿ

And the translation:


The ending – tol is inscribed on the inside of the Kingmoor Ring. Mesney explains this is probably due to the smaller size of the ring and so the runemaster who made it ran out of room on the exterior. But perhaps, instead, that one syllable – tol was purposely put on the inside so as to be closer to its wearer. Literally touching the individual’s finger.

Middle Earth

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