The Great Torc from Snettisham

British Museum

British Museum

This torc was made with great skill and tremendous care in the first half of the first century BC. It is one of the most elaborate golden objects made in the ancient world. Not even Greek, Roman or Chinese gold workers living 2000 years ago made objects of this complexity.

The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread was 1.9 mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make 8 separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each other to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes.

The torc was found when the field at Ken Hill, Snettisham was ploughed in 1950. Other hoards were found in the same field in 1948 and 1990. The torc was buried tied together with a complete bracelet by another torc. A coin found in caught in the ropes of the Great Torc suggests the hoard was buried around 75 BC.

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  • Title: The Great Torc from Snettisham
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 199.00mm (external, max); Weight: 1084.00g; Diameter: 56.30mm (terminal 1); Diameter: 56.50mm (terminal 2); Diameter: 26.50mm (cross-section neck-ring); Length: 16.20mm (distance between terminals)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: twisted; cast; chased; embossed
  • Registration number: 1951,0402.2
  • Place: Found/Acquired Ken Hill
  • Period/culture: Iron Age
  • Material: electrum
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Treasure Trove HM Treasury. With contribution from Art Fund