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31.03.2021

Stirling torcs

The Stirling TORCS comprise a hoard of four golden Iron Age Torcs, a necklace type, all of which date to between 300 and 100 B.C. , and which were buried deliberately at some point in antiquity. They were discovered with a metal detector in a field near Blair Drummond, Sterlingshire, Scotland, on September 28, 2009. The treasure has been described as the most significant discovery of Iron Age metalwork in Scotland and is said to be of international significance. The torks were valued at £462,000, and after a public appeal were acquired by the National Museum of Scotland in March 2011.

All four torcs were buried together, about 15-20 centimeters (6-8 inches) below the surface. Subsequent archaeological research determined that the torcs were originally buried in a roundhouse, a prehistoric round building. This building may have had religious significance because finds from hoards were usually either offerings to the gods by vow, or items of great value that were hidden in times of unrest or war, and because the building seemed to have no such features as a hearth associated with a dwelling.

All four torcs date from between 300 and 100 B.C., they are unexpectedly very different in form and style, which greatly increases the significance of the find. The two twisted ribbon torsos (numbered 1-2 in the display photo) are in perfect condition, elegant and relatively simple in design. They are molded from a flat strip of gold, which was then twisted, and represent a local style of jewelry, originating equally from Scotland and Ireland and dating back to the Late Bronze Age. One has simple hook terminals and the other has more decorative disc terminals.

The third torc is broken, and only half of the original artifact survives in two fragments. It is a tubular ring torx, which would have had a hinge and a retainer. Compared with ribbon ties, it has a refined design, and experts have identified it as a type originating from the region of Toulouse in southern France. It is the first specimen of its kind found in Great Britain.

The fourth torsion current is a loop end torsion, assembled and in good condition. It is made of eight gold wires twisted together. It has intricately decorated terminals and a short safety circuit. It has been described by Dr. Fraser Hunter, curator of the Iron Age and Romans at the National Museum of Scotland, as a remarkable hybrid of Mediterranean craftsmanship and more traditional Iron Age motifs. It may have been made for a local chieftain by a craftsman who had learned his trade in the Mediterranean region, and with a third torc points to significant links between Scotland and southern Europe. There are no other artifacts directly comparable to this one. The last significant find of torcs in Scotland was in 1857, when gold ribbon torcs were found at Loe Farm in Moray. The eclecticism of styles and provenance is comparable to the eclecticism of items from the Breuther Hoard of Northern Ireland, probably of a slightly later period.

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