Hoard F from Snettisham

Iron Age, around 75 BC
From Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk., England

Scrap metal or sacrifice?

This is a small part of one of at least eleven hoards of gold, silver and bronze objects buried at Snettisham. Although all the hoards contain neck rings, called torcs, there are two different types of hoard. Eight contain complete torcs and three, including hoard F, contain pieces of broken torcs.

Hoard F contains 9.2 kg of broken pieces from more than fifty different torcs, seventy bracelets and rings, three ingots and nine gold coins. The small selection shown here contains ingots, the ends and middle sections from different types of cut up torcs, along with parts of several bracelets. Many of the torcs that were put in this hoard may have been made a long time before they were finally cut up and buried. The hoard was placed inside a small bronze bowl and buried in a hole 35 cm wide and 20 cm deep.

We do not know why these torcs were destroyed but perhaps this hoard was a collection of scrap metal waiting to be melted down to make new torcs. But, if it is scrap, why was it buried in the same field as other hoards containing complete torcs? Alternatively, the torcs may have been broken as part of a ritual offering involving their destruction or 'killing' before burial. If they were an offering, did the torcs belong to fifty different people, all of whom gave their torcs?

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Hoard F from Snettisham

Snettisham hoard F

 

More information

Bibliography

R. Rainbird Clarke, 'The Early Iron Age treasure from Snettisham, Norfolk', Proceedings of the Prehistoric, 20 (1954)

I.M. Stead, 'The Snettisham Treasure: excavations in 1990', Antiquity-3, 65 (1991)

S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

I.M. Stead, Celtic art in Britain before t (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997)

Dimensions

Length: 5.500 cm (ingot)

Museum number

P&EE 1991 5-1 various

Location

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