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The Snettisham Great Torc

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1951,0402.2

  • Title (object)

    • The Snettisham Great Torc
  • Description

    Gold alloy torc with ornamented terminals. The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread is 1.9mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make eight separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes. The terminals are ornamented with embossed ridges, contrasting with areas filled by chased 'basket-work'.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 150 BC - 50 BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 199 millimetres (external, max)
    • Weight: 1084 grammes
    • Diameter: 56.3 millimetres (terminal 1)
    • Diameter: 56.5 millimetres (terminal 2)
    • Diameter: 26.5 millimetres (cross-section neck-ring)
    • Length: 16.2 millimetres (distance between terminals)
  • Curator's comments

    Known as the 'Snettisham Great Torc', this neck-ring was discovered in 1950 in a field near the village of Snettisham in Norfolk. Later, many hoards of Iron Age torcs were found at this site. This torc is one of the most elaborate golden objects from the ancient world. It is made from an alloy of gold, silver and copper, and weighs over 1 kg. The neck-ring is made from 64 wires in eight separate coils. The ends were cast on to the finished neck-ring using the lost-wax casting process, and are elaborately decorated with swirling motifs.

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  • Bibliography

    • Stead 1997 bibliographic details
    • James & Rigby 1997 p.26, pl.28 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G50/dc19

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2016 11 Mar- 25 Sep, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Celts.
    2015-2016 24 Sep-31 Jan, London, BM, G30, 'Celts: Art and Identity' 2011 22 Oct- 2012 5 Feb, Perth, Western Australian Museum, 'Extraordinary Stories' 2007 Mar-June, Beijing, Palace Museum, Britain meets the World 2003 23 Oct-2004 18 Jan, London, Hayward Gallery, Saved! 100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund 1993-1994 3 Dec-4 Mar, Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, Celtic Treasures: The Snettisham Torcs 1991-1992 12 Nov-1 Mar, Norwich Castle Museum, The Snettisham Hoard

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1951

  • Acquisition notes

    Found while ploughing, 1950

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1951,0402.2

  • Additional IDs

    • T3 (Treasure number)
Electrum torc with ornamented terminals.  The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread is 1.9mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make 8 separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds.  The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes. The terminals are ornamented with embossed ridges, contrasting with areas filled by chased 'basket-work'.

Electrum torc with ornamented terminals. The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread is 1.9mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make 8 separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes. The terminals are ornamented with embossed ridges, contrasting with areas filled by chased 'basket-work'.

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Object reference number: BCB57022

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