- Museum number
- Object: The Snettisham Great Torc
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'.
- Production date
- 150 BC - 50 BC (circa)
Diameter: 26.50 millimetres (cross-section neck-ring)
Diameter: 199 millimetres (external, max)
Diameter: 56.30 millimetres (terminal 1)
Diameter: 56.50 millimetres (terminal 2)
Length: 16.20 millimetres (distance between terminals)
Weight: 1084 grammes
- Curator's comments
- This torc (metal neck-ring) was discovered in 1950, in a field near the village of Snettisham. The site is on the north-west coast of Norfolk, overlooking the Wash. Later, many hoards of Iron Age torcs were found at this site. This torc was one of the early finds, and at the time the most impressive, and so it is conventionally referred to as “The Snettisham Great Torc”.
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 are elaborately decorated with swirling motifs.
The torc was probably buried around 50 BC. This is based on stylistic dating, contextual dating of the associated coin found within one of the terminals (see below), and radiocarbon-dating of wooden cores from similar objects found at the same site.
When it was discovered, a sheet gold bracelet (1951,0402.4) was attached to it by another broken torc (1951,0402.3) which was looped through the terminals. Later, a gold coin was found in one of ther terminals (1951,0507.1).
Together, these four objects form Snettisham Hoard E:
Great Torc: 1951,0402.2
Sheet-gold bracelet: 1951,0402.4
Broken torc threaded through bracelet and terminals of Great Torc: 1951,0402.3
Coin found in terminal of Great Torc: 1951,0507.1
- On display (G50/dc19)
- Exhibition history
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 date
- Acquisition notes
- Found while ploughing, 1950
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Treasure/PAS number: T3 (Treasure number)