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Flanged Torc found at Belfast

Pre-Celtic Gold Jewelry 

Later Bronze Age c. 1200 - 600 B.C.


Torcs are a type of necklet manufactured from the late bronze age onwards.  They are of twisted pieces of gold, the original concept for the design being imported from practices on the European Continent, there are also earrings and bracelets made in this twisting technique.  They are of three main types; the  bar-twisted, flange-twisted and ribbon twisted.  The terminals which consist of thin rods of gold are bent back in such a way that one hooks into the other thus offering a way of opening and closing the necklet.

The "Tara Torcs" are of the type known as flange-twisted.  The angles of a gold bar of rectangular section are hammered into four thin flanges and the whole is then twisted.

 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Treasures of Early Irish Art 1500 B.C. - 1500 A.D. plate 4 pp. 49-50. pub. 1977.)

In 1978 two torcs one flange the other ribbon-twisted were found during the excavations in a marshy field at Coolmanagh, Co.Carlow.  The flange torc had been hammered up and was 1cm in height and 1mm in thickness but had not been twisted possibly due a flaw during manufacture.  The ribbon torc was 21.75cm in diameter and had been twisted many times.

Thirty-one examples of torcs of the bar form are known in Ireland and about sixty ribbon torcs. (Eogan, G. The associated finds of gold bar torcs, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland no.97 pp. 129-175.)

Further Reading:

O'Kelly, Michael J. Early Ireland: An introduction to Irish Prehistory . Cambridge University Press, 1989.reprinted:1993.1995. Click link to buy from


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