The Hobbit

The "cursed" Roman ring found in England. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Cursed Roman ring may have inspired Tolkien's tales of Middle-earth

In what was once the housekeeper's office of a Tudor mansion in Hampshire, southern England, a very odd golden ring glitters on a revolving stand in a tall perspex column. In chapter five of The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins finds a ring in the gloom of Gollum's cave. Not just any ring. "One very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. He had a ring, a golden ring, a precious ring".