Bronze Age Gold from Wales

Middle Bronze Age gold ribbon torc

This is a thin ribbon of gold that has been loosely twisted, tapering to narrow hooked terminals at each end. This ornament would probably have been worn around an individual’s neck. It must be noted that the object was found deformed and crushed into a ball with two other torcs. Thus its present condition and dimensions are an interpretation of what the original form.

This hoard represents the only known ribbon torcs from Wales, while the main currency is in Ireland, where over sixty examples are known. Over fifty more have been found in Scotland, but in England the number is less than twenty. A recent discovery of ribbon torcs and bracelets at Priddy, Somerset, was also found crushed into a ball.

Gold ribbon torc, 1400-1300 BCE. Ribbon torcs were designed to dazzle and show the wearer’s status. They were made by loosely twisting thin strips of gold. The hook-shaped ends secured the torc in place. When found, the torcs in this hoard were crushed together into a golden ball. Archaeologists have noted a similar pattern elsewhere in Britain. This suggests that the decommissioning of these objects had a particular meaning to the people who buried them.

Project Title: Gold in Britain’s auriferous regions, 2450-800 BC: towards a coherent Research Framework and Strategy. Status: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Network Grant funded project (2018-2019)

WA_SC 18.1

Collection Area

Archaeology & Numismatics

Item Number

55.543/1

Find Information

Site Name: Heyope (Cwmjenkin Farm), Powys

Collection Method: surface find
Date: 1955 / Jun

Notes: Hoard. The hoard was found on 10th June 1955 in a very steep field approximately 640 south south east of Cwmjenkin Farm by the occupant of the farm while ploughing. The three torcs were found crushed into a ball and were disentangled and arranged in their present form post-recovery. The findspot is well below the top of the hill and it is possible they were deposited higher, but have since moved due to erosion. The report of discovery indicates that the ploughing reached no deeper than nine inches.

Acquisition

Treasure trove, 3/12/1955

Measurements

internal diameter / mm:196.0
external diameter / mm:208.0
width / mm:7.2-8.8 (of strip)
thickness / mm:0.8
diameter / mm:5.2 (of terminals)

Material

gold

Location

St Fagans Wales Is gallery : Gold

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