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Gold torcs from the Winchester hoard

Large torc from the Winchester hoard

  • Small torc from the Winchester hoard

    Small torc from the Winchester hoard

  • Clasp of large torc

    Clasp of large torc

  • Clasp of small torc

    Clasp of small torc

 

Circumference: 48.000 cm (larger torc)
Thickness: 11.000 cm
Weight: 516.000 g
Circumference: 48.000 cm (larger torc)
Thickness: 11.000 cm
Weight: 516.000 g

P&EE 2001 9-1 1 (larger torc);P&EE 2001 9-1 2 (smaller torc)

Prehistory and Europe

    Gold torcs from the Winchester hoard

    Iron Age, about 75-25 BC
    From Hampshire, southern England

    A unique find

    These torcs were found with other gold jewellery in a field in Hampshire in 2000. They had been churned around in the soil by the farmer's plough. The smaller torc had probably been caught around the plough or harrow, as it was found at the very end of the field.

    These two torcs are unlike any other torcs from Iron Age Britain, Ireland, France or Germany. Compare them with, for example, torcs from the Snettisham hoards. While the Snettisham torcs are rigid in form, made by twisting wire together, the Winchester torcs are made from many small gold rings which have been bent into loops and threaded together into a fluid 'rope'. Many small silver and gold jewellery chains are made today in this way, but there is no evidence that the technique was used in Britain 2,000 years ago. The technique was used in the Roman and Greek world to make small jewellery chains, but never of this size and thickness. The terminals (ends) of the Winchester torcs are gold tubes decorated with gold wire, filigree and granulation. Again, though Greek and Roman jewellery was made using this technology, no other Iron Age objects from Britain are thus decorated.

    Who made these unusual torcs? Did a Roman craftsperson make two torcs for a native British couple? Or did a skilled British craftsperson copy foreign techniques to make two traditional Iron Age objects in an outstanding new way?

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    History of Iron Age swords and scabbards, £85.00

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