Yorkshire Museum appeals to public to help save Iron Age jewellery of pre-Roman torc

By Culture24 Reporter | 27 September 2013

Curators at The Yorkshire Museum are warning that a 2,000-year-old torc, described as having a rarer and more intricate style than its sister treasure, which was saved in 2012, could be sold at auction if they cannot raise £30,000 by October.

A photo of two gold torcs against a black background
It's good to torc in York© Kippa Matthews
The precious bracelets became the first examples of Iron Age gold jewellery to have been found in the north of England when they were discovered by metal detectorists near Tadcaster in 2010 and 2011.

Despite being unearthed separately, curators say they were “almost certainly” buried together, having once belonged to a member of the ruling Brigantes whose extreme wealth could have indicated Royal status.

“Torcs like these have never been found in the north of England,” says Natalie McCaul, the museum’s curator of archaeology.

“They are, quite simply, incredible finds, and represent some of the earliest gold objects ever found in this region.

“They are helping us to re-write the history of pre-Roman Yorkshire, as we can now say for the first time with any certainty that there were people of significant wealth living here in the Iron Age.

“This second torc really reflects this – it is much more intricate in design and is generally much rarer.”

Hoping to repeat the generosity aroused among supporters at the start of 2012, when £25,000 was raised for the first torc through a public appeal, McCaul and her team have secured half of the funds through a grant from a local charity.

“We hope we can find the money to ensure this beautiful object stays in Yorkshire for the public to enjoy, but also so we can conduct research into the pair of bracelets to try and find out more about Yorkshire during this period,” she adds.

  • The torcs will be on display until October 13 2013. Visit the museum website or telephone 01904 687671 to donate.

Torcs factfile:

  • The torcs were found in the bed of a stream near Towton, North Yorkshire; the first in May 2010 and the second in April 2011.

  • They are similar in appearance, with the main body of the bracelet made up of two gold wires twisted together.

  • Similar bracelets have been found in Britain, mainly in Norfolk, where the Iceni tribe lived during the Iron Age.

  • There was no evidence of the Brigantes tribe using gold before the discovery of these torcs – until now, the furthest north torcs had been found was in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

  • The torcs are very similar in appearance to those found in the Snettisham Hoard from Norfolk, which was most likely to have been Royal treasure belonging to the Iceni. This raises the possibility that the bracelets were spoils of war, a gift or used in trade between the two tribes.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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