Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a medieval ring that had a secret compartment which could have been used to conceal poison.
The ring was discovered near the town of Kavarna along the Bulgarian coast. Made of bronze, the ring has a small compartment embedded in the bezel. Boni Petrunova, head of the archaeological dig and deputy director of the National Archaeology Institute and Museum in Sofia, explains, “It’s a unique ring. I have no doubts that the hole is there on purpose and the ring was worn on the right hand, because the hole was made in such a way so as to be covered by a finger, thus the poison could be dropped at a moment’s notice. Clearly, it was not worn constantly and would have been put on when necessary.”
Petrunova believes the the ring was made in the later 14th century, when this area of Bulgaria was under the control of Dobrotitsa, ruler of the independent Despotate of Dobrudja. His reign was marked by conflict with the nobility and his own son.
The ring was discovered in an area that housed the local aristocracy and where more than 30 items of jewellery have been found since 2011.
Poison was sometimes used for murder, including among the aristocracy, during the Middle Ages. For example, see the article Poisons and Poisoning in the Republic of Dubrovnik