Return of the ring: Iron Age "crown jewel" which is one of Britain's finest torcs goes back on display

By Ben Miller | 10 June 2015

A gold and silver symbol of Iron Age status has returned to the county where it was found by a metal detectorist

A photo of a man holding up a gleaming gold circular ring
Metal detectorist Maurice Richardson with the torc he found ten years ago© National Civil War Centre / Doug Jackson
Recalling the moment he found the 2,000-year-old Iron Age torc he regards as “Nottinghamshire’s crown jewel”, Maurice Richardson, a metal detectorist whose 40 years of searching had never unearthed any artefact worth more than £100, describes a typically dirty business.

Richardson struck gold and silver in 2005 while examining farmland a few miles from Newark, where the torc has just gone on display at the town’s major new Civil War Centre.

"I got down on my stomach and scraped away with my hands. A glint of gold came into view,” he remembers.

“It took me another half an hour to get it out of the ground because I was so nervous. It came out as though I had bought it from the shop yesterday.

“It shone. It was solid and perfect in every way.”

A photo of a man walking on parkland metal detecting on a sunny afternoon
The £350,000 torc was by far Richardson's finest find during 40 years of scanning© National Civil War Centre / Doug Jackson
Experts say the torc would have been the “ultimate status symbol”. The local council paid £350,000 to stop it going overseas, but a lack of suitable venues meant it has been kept at the British Museum, where it first went on show five years ago.

“We now have a world-class facility so it's the perfect place for the torc to be shown in all its glory,” says Michael Constantine, the Manager of the Civil War Centre.

“Although most of our museum is dedicated to the 17th century British Civil Wars, we have also created galleries devoted to rest of the area's history, stretching more than 7,000 years.

A photo of a circular ancient gold ring on a dark brown surface
The torc is thought to date from 250 BC© National Civil War Centre / Doug Jackson
“But the glint of gold will draw many visitors across to the torc. In future we will loan the object to other prestigious venues to take part in major exhibitions as part of our obligation as custodian of this rare relic.

“But it will now always return to Newark.”

Its finder is pleased at the return of the ring.

A photo of a man holding a gold torc in his hands while smiling under a beamed roof
A combination of silver and gold makes up the neck ring© National Civil War Centre / Doug Jackson
“My wife could not believe it when I got home,” says Richardson. “She thought it was a bit of an old brass bedstead.

“I always hoped to would come back to Newark so the public could admire its sheer beauty and craftsmanship.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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