- Museum number
- Series: Ipswich Torcs
Gold torc with loop terminals. The neck-ring consists of two fluted bars twisted together. The terminals are decorated in relief with Tène II style curvilinear motifs of bosses and scrolls, within a border of two corded bands lying close together. The terminals were cast onto the neck-ring using the lost wax method.
- Production date
- 150 BC - 50 BC (circa)
Diameter: 14.70 millimetres (cross-section neck ring)
Diameter: 186 millimetres (external, max)
Diameter: 41 millimetres (terminal 1)
Diameter: 41.70 millimetres (terminal 2)
Length: 29 millimetres (distance between terminals)
Weight: 867.60 grammes
- Curator's comments
From Blurton 1997:
Both the form and decoration of this torc are typical of late Iron Age decorative metalwork produced in Britain before the Roman occupation. It is one of a non-exact pair found with three other similar examples, following construction work near Ipswich in 1968.
The precise function and symbolism of British torcs is not recorded and none has been found in a burial. Gold torcs may have been a symbol of high status since in the only surviving record, a British chief, Boudicca, is described as wearing a gold necklet when she led her tribal army into battle against the occupying Roman army in AD 60-61. (The author, Cassius Dio, was however writing long after the event.)
In Iron Age Europe, some deities were depicted in stone or bronze sculpture wearing a torc. Torcs of bronze were buried with women and girls. Probably the most influential evidence for the symbolic nature of gold torcs has been the extract from the description of the battle of Telamon in 225 BC by the Greek historian, Polybius. In this battle the Romans finally defeated the Celtic-speaking Gaulish tribes who were invading Italy-Polybius says, 'all the warriors in the front ranks were adorned in gold necklaces and bracelets'. Gold torcs are now widely considered to be the emblem of the Celtic warrior; they may, however, simply have been a special-purpose currency.
Five gold torcs (1969,0103.1-5, which came to be known as the 'Ipswich Torcs') were found together near Ipswich, Suffolk All were made from two twisted solid bars, with loop terminals cast on. Four (1969,0103.2-5) have cast terminals ornamented in high relief: they can be paired but their patterns are not identical. The fifth (1969,0103.1) has plain terminals. These torcs were probably deposited together as a hoard around 75 BC.
A sixth torc found nearby in 1970 (1971,0203.1) is slightly different in design, but is probably part of the same original group.
- On display (G50/dc20)
- Exhibition history
2019-2020, 27 Jul -16 Feb, Colchester, Colchester Castle, Essex Bling
2015, 24 Aug - 2016 06 Oct, Norwich, Castle Museum, The Ipswich Torcs.
2013, 14 Sep - 2014 24 Feb, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia
2012, 1 Jun - 28 Jul, London, Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Goldsmiths' Hall, Gold: Power and Allure’.
1998-9, Feb - 3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image
1997-8, 13 Oct - 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Found on 26/10/1968
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Treasure/PAS number: T46 (Treasure number)