TWISTED BEAUTY – Gold Ribbon Torcs in Bronze Age and Celtic Europe

Bronze Age and Celtic Ribbon Torcs

 

Representing some of the finest examples of European jewelry of the Bronze Age and Celtic period, gold ribbon torcs first appear during the middle Bronze Age in the British Isles. The torcs were created by beating an gold ingot into a flat band that was then twisted.

Carrowdore bog, Co. Down. It dates from the middle Bronze Age (c. 1400-1000 BC)

Middle Bronze Age ribbon torc discovered in Carrowdore Bog in County Down, Ireland

1857 Law Farm Hoard 1 of 36 in Moray, Scotland. Pitt Rivers Museum - Ribbon Torc

Ribbon torc (middle Bronze Age), 1 of 36 discovered in 1857 in a hoard at Law Farm in Moray, Scotland.  Some examples from this and other hoards are smaller in dimension, and may have been worn as bracelets.

 

From the Bronze Age such torcs have been discovered almost exclusively in Ireland and Scotland, the only examples from southern Britain being those from Heyope in Powys, Wales (again dating to the middle Bronze Age).

Gold ribbon torcs discovered at Heyope in Powys, Wales. Dating to the middle Bronze Age

The Heyope Torcs

 

Moving into the Iron Age, perhaps the finest example is a wonderfully elaborate ribbon torc discovered at Saint-Marc-le-Blanc in Brittany, dated to the 6th century BC. Notable examples from the later Iron Age are again largely confined to the Insular Celtic sphere, specifically Ireland and Scotland, and include beautiful examples such as those from Belfast in northern Ireland and Stirlingshire in Scotland.

Saint-Marc-le-Blanc Brittany 6 c. BC

The wonderful layered ribbon torc from Saint-Marc-le-Blanc in Brittany (6 c. BC)

Gold 'ribbon torcs' discovered at Blair Drummond (Stirlingshire), Scotland. 4 Celtic torcs were discovered in the hoard, 2 of which displayed Mediterranean influences.

Ribbon torc from Blair Drummond (Stirlingshire), Scotland. 4 Celtic torcs were discovered in the hoard, 2 of which displayed Mediterranean influences. (3/2 century BC)

Celtic gold ribbon torc discovered near Belfast, Ireland 3 c. BC

The Belfast Torc (3rd century BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail