A POST-MEDIEVAL artefact which was found on a Herefordshire farm by a metal detectorist has been classed as treasure.

The object was determined to be a vervel, otherwise known as a hawking ring. This is a type of ring used to attach a bird to its perch by its leg, or for falconers to fly their birds. 

The vervel is believed to be post-medieval, dating back to the 16th century, and was found in Much Marcle, near Ross-on-Wye, on April 3, 2022.

Last month, on August 16, coroner Mark Bricknell at Hereford Town Hall decided that the ring should be classed as treasure.

To reach that conclusion he found that the ring was more than 300 years old and consisted of more than 10 per cent silver.

The vervel is around seven millimeters in width, 10mm in thickness and 0.76 grams in weight.

A Portable Antiquities Scheme record notes that the ring is decorated with an engraved image of a hedgehog and an inscription reading “Herefordshire”.

Vervels were used to attach a hawk or falcon’s leather jesses to a leash, which, held in the hand, allowed the bird to be trained in short distance flight. The leash could also be used to attach the bird to its perch or block.

The record says: “Vervels were inscribed or otherwise decorated to allow the bird to be identified with its owner. This example fits within Lewis and Richardson’s typology which is categorised as having a shield soldered on to the ring horizontally.

“The hedgehog may be associated with the Kyrle family that had connections in the Dymock and Walford area, who incorporated the hedgehog in their coat of arms.”

The most well-known of the Kyrle family were John Kyrle, known as the Man of Ross, and his father Walter Kyrle, a barrister and member of parliament. The family lived in Ross-on-Wye for many generations.

Describing the hedgehog engraving further, the record says: “The upper face of the bezel is decorated with an engraved image of the animal, represented with a large oval body with short lines for the quills. Four legs are thick groves with expanded feet that protrude from the body.”


The inquest heard that the ring was found on farmland owned by Steve Heath in Much Marcle.

Mr Heath confirmed that the finder, Simon Davies, had discovered the ring while on Mr Heath’s land legally.