Yorkshire Museum buys £30,000 Iron Age torc after public appeal succeeds

By Chris Seekings | 28 November 2013

The Yorkshire Museum has bought the second of two Iron Age torcs, believed to be the first jewellery from the era found in the north, following a successful public fundraising campaign

A photo of a woman holding two torc-like gold bracelets
Natalie McCaul, the assistant curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, with the Brigante torcs© Kippa Matthews
Generous donations from the public and funding bodies have allowed the second of two ancient torcs, both discovered at Towton, near Tadcaster, to be reunited with its sister ring at the Yorkshire Museum.

Found by metal detectorists in 2010 and 2011, buried within metres of each other, the torcs represent the first gold Iron Age jewellery ever found in the north of England. They have been separated since the museum bought the first torc for £25,000 in January 2012.

“It is wonderful news that the funds have been raised to keep this fantastic piece of jewellery," said Natalie McCaul, the museum's curator of archaeology.

"We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the public and without their help we may have seen the bracelet enter a private collection.

“We are now looking forward to researching the torcs to learn more about them and what they can tell us about life in Yorkshire 2,000 years ago.”

Both torcs were almost certainly buried together at the same time, but the later acquisition is rarer and more intricate in its design.  

They undoubtedly belonged to an extremely wealthy, possibly royal, member of the Brigantes tribe. Their discovery is the first evidence of the tribe using gold.

The torcs are almost identical to the artefacts found in the Snettisham Hoard in Norfolk, which is thought to have been Royal treasure belonging to the Iceni tribe. Their similarities have raised the possibility that the bracelets were spoils of war or gifts used in trade between the two factions.

Both torcs have been put on public display in the museum’s reception area.

More on this story:

Yorkshire Museum bids to save first Iron Age bracelets ever found in north of England

Yorkshire Museum launches final appeal to save Iron Age Tadcaster Torc

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

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