Fragment of a tubular torc from Snettisham

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

Broken, repaired and finally smashed

This is the squashed end of a torc made from a tube of gold. The tube was formed by rolling a sheet of gold and welding the edges together. Before the sheet was made into a tube, it was carefully decorated with a complicated La Tène style pattern. The decoration was made using a combination of chasing and engraving and is the most complicated design ever found on a British torc. When complete, the torc may have looked like a decorated gold torc found at Broighter in Ireland.

The style of the La Tène decoration on this fragment is very different to the patterns on the most of the other torcs from Snettisham and it appears to have been made a long time before the others. There is also evidence that the torc was broken and repaired before it was finally smashed. The first hoard found at Snettisham (A) contained three complete, but undecorated, tubular torcs and part of one other. Hoard F, on the other hand, contained pieces of broken torcs. Like those in hoard F, this torc had already been broken and squashed when it was deposited.

Tubular torcs are not common and are a different type to those made by twisting together threads or bars of metal to make a rope, such as the Great Torc.

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More information


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)


Length: 13.000 cm
Weight: 119.000 g

Museum number

P&EE 1991 5-1 28



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