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Neck Ring (Torque)

600 B.C.


The design of this torque is deceptive. It appears to be wrapped in a wide flat wire that changes direction six times. In fact, the intricate pattern was carved into the metal. Although it is unknown where this item was found, similar torques have been found in peat bogs, where they are believed to have been thrown as offerings to a god or goddess or as symbols of gratitude.

The word comes from Latin torquis (or torques), from torqueo, "to twist", because of the twisted shape many of the rings have. Typically, neck-rings that open at the front when worn are called "torcs" and those that open at the back "collars". Smaller bracelets and armlets worn around the wrist or on the upper arm sometimes share very similar forms. Torcs were made from single or multiple intertwined metal rods, or "ropes" of twisted wire. Most of those that have been found are made from gold or bronze, less often silver, iron or other metals (gold, bronze and silver survive better than other metals when buried for long periods). Elaborate examples, sometimes hollow, used a variety of techniques but complex decoration was usually begun by casting and then worked by further techniques. The Ipswich Hoard includes unfinished torcs that give clear evidence of the stages of work.[3] Flat-ended terminals are called "buffers", and in types like the "fused-buffer" shape, where what resemble two terminals are actually a single piece, the element is called a "muff".