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Iron Age torcs

A torc is a type of ornament worn around the neck. Torcs, neck rings and metal collars were a common type of jewellery across Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe during the Iron Age. Torcs and neck rings were first made in the Bronze Age (about 2000-800 BC). Torcs could be made of gold, silver, bronze or even iron. Those made of gold or silver indicated the relative importance of the wearer, the Iron Age equivalent of a modern king or queen's crown. The Roman writer Dio Cassius describes the British queen Boudica as wearing a golds necklace, perhaps a torc? Many Iron Age torcs found in Britain were probably buried as religious offerings.

They are called torcs (from the Latin torquere, to twist) because they were often made by twisting metal wires together like a rope. This is how most of the torcs found at Snettisham were made. Some were made by twisting two thick bars of metal together, while others were made with many thin wires. Not all Iron Age torcs were made this way. Some were made out of one piece of untwisted metal. Some were made from hollow tubes of metal. Different types of torc were fashionable at different times and in different parts of Britain.

One thing that many torcs have in common is that they are very difficult to bend, making it difficult to put them around your neck or take them off. It is possible that they were only worn on special occasions or, like a modern wedding ring, not taken off at all.

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