Archaeologists in Jersey find solid gold torc hidden in Celtic coin hoard

By Richard Moss | 04 December 2014

Celtic coin hoard discovered by archaeologists in Jersey leads to gold finds including solid gold torc

a photo of a golden torc and coins covered in earth
The Golden torc is larger than any other example ever found on Jersey© Jersey Heritage
A Celtic coin hoard discovered on Jersey has been astounding archaeologists with a wealth of gold treasures.

For the past two weeks, Jersey Heritage's conservation team have been excavating an area known to contain gold jewellery. Late last week, one end of a solid gold torc was uncovered.

The find follows the discovery of two other solid gold torcs - one gold-plated and one of an unknown alloy - along with a silver brooch and a crushed sheet gold tube. But the latest artefact is considerably larger than anything previously unearthed on the island.

As well as a large, rigid neck ring, archaeologists say the torc has a massive decorative ‘terminal’ where it was likely to have been locked closed around the owner’s neck. The terminal is formed from two solid gold wheels, each about 4cm across and 1cm wide.

So far, 10cm of the curved gold collar has been uncovered. It is not yet known how complete it is. 

“It’s an incredible time here,” says Neil Mahrer, Jersey Museum's Conservator. “Every hour or so we are finding a new gold object.

“We did see some gold jewellery on the surface of the hoard, but since we’ve started looking at this shoe-box sized area, we’ve uncovered a total of six torcs, five of which are gold and one which we believe to be gold-plated. This is the only one that we think is whole, though.”

The extent of the torc’s wholeness will be discovered in the next few weeks as the coins currently hiding it will be painstakingly recorded and removed.

Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, an Iron Age jewellery expert who has been involved in studying jewellery found in other Jersey hoards, has been assisting with the interpretation. He has already identified comparable features in examples found in 2nd century BC hoards at Bergien, Belgium and Niederzier, Germany.

A small stone has also been uncovered, possibly of local granite. Archaeologists say it may be no more than a pebble in the field that fell into the treasure pit during the burial. But as it is an odd shape and size, its purpose will be investigated.

At the end of the clearing period the torc will be scanned in place to record its position to fractions of a millimetre before being removed, probably along with some of the other jewellery surrounding it.

a photo of a tray full of golden coins and other objects covered in soil
© Jersey Heritage
a photo of a tray full of golden coins and and torc covered in soil
© Jersey Heritage
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going to go look at the hoard on monday, can't wait.
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