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Gold torc

Gold torc from the Orense culture

 

Acquired by the British Museum, 1960

P&E 1960,0503.1

    Gold torc

    Orense culture, north-western Spain
    2nd - 1st century BC

    This gold torc is one of a very similar pair, both of which have hour-glass shaped terminals and diamond cross-sectioned bodies. They would have been worn around the neck and were found on the Spanish-Portuguese border.

    They were made by sophisticated small societies which occupied small, fortified hilltop settlements called 'castros'. Castros are found all over the north-western corner of the Iberian Peninsular and were constructed before the Roman conquest of the region. The people who occupied castros also made other items of gold jewellery including earrings and bracelets. These items were often decorated with stylised animal or geometric motifs.

    The main body of the torcs would have been hammered into shape from a roughly square bar of gold. The terminals are made of separate cylindrical elements soldered together at their edges and smoothed with a stone before being soldered onto the main body. The decoration at the ends of the terminals was punched into the surface of the gold.

    M. Lenerz-de Wilde, 'The Celts in Spain' in The Celtic World-2 (London and New York, Routledge, 1995)

    I. Sastre, 'Forms of social inequality in the Castro culture of North-West Iberia', European Journal of Archaeolog (2002)

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