York Castle Museum

Dated: 25/09/2013

Bid to keep the first Iron Age gold jewellery in the North

The Yorkshire Museum must raise thousands of pounds to reunite two 2,000 year old gold torcs (bracelets) which represent the first Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England.

The two torcs were found by metal detectorists separately, in 2010 and 2011, in Towton, near Tadcaster, within metres of each other, but were almost certainly buried at the same time.

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

The first was purchased by the Yorkshire Museum in January 2012 for £25,000, after public appeal and thanks to the fantastic generosity of the people of Yorkshire.

Now the second, more intricate and much rarer style of torc has been valued at £30,000.

Around half the funds have been secured through a generous grant from a local charitable foundation, but the rest must be raised by October to make sure this iconic jewellery stays on public display in Yorkshire.

Natalie McCaul, curator of archaeology, said:

“Torcs like these have never been found in the north of England – so they are, quite simply, incredible finds, and represent some of the earliest gold objects ever found in this region. They are helping us to re-write the history of pre-Roman Yorkshire, as we can now say for the first time with any certainty that there were people of significant wealth living here in the Iron Age. This second torc really reflects this – it is much more intricate in design and is generally much rarer.

“We hope we can find the money to ensure this beautiful object stays in Yorkshire for the public to enjoy, but also so we can conduct research into the pair of bracelets to try and find out more about Yorkshire during this period.”

The funding must be found before October otherwise the torc could be placed on the open market and sold to an organisation or individual outside the region. To donate please visit the Yorkshire Museum or phone 01904 687671.

The torcs 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. There was no evidence of the Brigantes tribe using gold before the discovery of these 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 from 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.

Both will be on show temporarily at the Yorkshire Museum from Wednesday September 25 until October 13.

To donate to the campaign, please click the donate link below to the Paypal payment page.