York Castle Museum

Dated: 21/11/2011

First Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England

Press Release

Yorkshire Museum’s appeal to keep stunning 2,000 year old torcs discovered near Tadcaster

Two gold bracelets found by metal detectorists near Tadcaster have been declared the first Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England.

The two torcs were found within metres of each other on different occasions by metal detectorists Andrew Green and Shaun Scott.

They probably would have belonged to an extremely wealthy, possibly royal, member of the Brigantes tribe, who ruled most of North Yorkshire during the Iron Age.

The first has been dated to 100BC-70BC, while the second could be older still. 

The Yorkshire Museum is now appealing to the public to raise £60,000 to make sure they stay in Yorkshire. You can donate now using the button above (plus see Gift Aid), or by calling into the museum or contacting the Chief Executive's Office on 01904 687643 .

Natalie McCaul, assistant curator of archaeology, said: "These are stunning finds and have made archaeologists and historians think again about what life was like in Yorkshire 2,000 years ago.

"Until now no-one had evidence of gold being worn as jewellery at this time in the north of England. For one it shows that there was serious wealth here before the Romans, something which until now we could only speculate.

"We hope we can now raise the money needed to make sure they stay in Yorkshire for people to enjoy."

Both torcs are made entirely of gold and would have been worn by someone of immense wealth, possibly royalty.

They were found in the bed of a stream near Towton, North Yorkshire, the first in May 2010 and the second in April 2011. They are similar in appearance, with the main body of the bracelet made up of two gold wires, twisted together.

Similar bracelets have been found in Britain, mainly in Norfolk which in the Iron Age was home to the Iceni tribe.

The Brigantes were not known to deal in gold jewellery until the discovery of the torcs - until now the furthest north torcs had been found was in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

The torcs are very similar in appearance to those found in the Snettisham Hoard in Norfolk, which was most likely to have been Royal treasure belonging to the Iceni.

This raises the possibility that the bracelets were spoils of war, a gift or used in trade between the two tribes.

The site and the nature of the finds has also intrigued experts, with torcs previously found in hoards rather than just single pieces. There is also no history of them being found in water, which raises the possibility that the two examples were washed away from an original burial site.

The first torc has been declared treasure by the coroner, with the second going before the coroner in the next few months.

Both will be on show temporarily at the Yorkshire Museum from today until January 31 2012.

The Museum now has to raise £60,000 to make sure they stay in Yorkshire.