Weight: 1160.000 g (total)
P&EE 2001 9-1 1-10
Room 50: Britain and Europe
The Winchester hoard
Iron Age, about 75-25 BC
From Hampshire, southern England
The most important discovery of Iron Age gold for 50 years
The Winchester hoard is a unique group of gold jewellery. It has been described as the most important discovery of Iron Age gold objects from Britain since 1950, when the Great Torc was found at Snettisham. The hoard has two sets of gold jewellery, each comprising a necklace torc and two gold brooches held together by a chain. There are also two gold bracelets. A total of 1160 grams of very pure gold was used to make the objects. One of the torcs is bigger than the other, possibly because one was made for a man and the other for a woman. The torcs were made in a way that is different to that of any other torc known from Iron Age Britain, Ireland or France.
The hoard was found in 2000 by Mr Kevan Halls using a metal detector in a field near Winchester. He informed Sally Worrell of the Portable Antiquities Recording Scheme about the find. Archaeologists from the British Museum were able to investigate the field to learn more about the context of the find. The gold objects evidently did not come from a grave, settlement or temple, but had been buried on their own on top of a small hill that might have been covered with trees. They may have been buried for safekeeping or as a religious offering.
Many aspects of life for people in the Winchester area were changing at the time this hoard was buried. The objects in this hoard illuminate these changes, with their mixture of old and new, British and Roman ideas. They were made for very important people, perhaps a king and queen, who lived at the time Julius Caesar was conquering France for the Roman Empire.
Other Views: How the Winchester Hoard might have been worn (drawing by Karen Hughes, 2001).
From the collection of the British Museum
Richard Hobbs, Treasure: Finding our past (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)