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Archaeologists in Jersey find solid gold torc hidden in Celtic coin hoard

Archaeologists in Jersey find solid gold torc hidden in Celtic coin hoard
By Richard Moss

A Celtic coin hoard discovered on Jersey has been offering up its secrets and astounding archaeologists with a series of golden treasure finds.

For the last two weeks, the Jersey Heritage hoard conservation team have been excavating in an area known to contain gold jewellery and late last week, one end of a solid gold torc was uncovered.

The find comes on the back of several finds within the hoard including two other solid gold torcs, one gold plated and one of an unknown alloy, along with a silver brooch and a crushed sheet gold tube. But the latest discovery is considerably larger than anything previously unearthed on the island.

A large, rigid neck ring, archaeologist say the torc has a massive decorative ‘terminal’, which is where it was probably locked closed around the owner’s neck. The terminal is formed from two solid gold wheels, each about 4cm across and 1cm wide.

So far, 10cm of the curved gold collar has been uncovered and it is not yet known how complete it is.

“It’s an incredible time here,” said Neil Mahrer, Jersey Museum Conservator. “Every hour or so we are finding a new gold object.

“We did see some gold jewellery on the surface of the hoard, but since we’ve started looking at this shoe-box sized area, we’ve uncovered a total of six torcs, five of which are gold and one which we believe to be gold-plated. This is the only one that we think is whole, though.”

The extent of the torc’s wholeness will be discovered in the next few weeks as the coins currently hiding it will be painstakingly recorded and removed.

Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, an Iron Age jewellery expert who has been involved in studying jewellery found in other Jersey hoards has been assisting with the interpretation. He has already identified comparable features in examples found in 2nd century BC hoards at Bergien, Belgium and Niederzier, Germany.

A small stone has also been uncovered, possibly of local granite. Archaeologists say it may be no more than a pebble in the field that fell into the treasure pit during the burial, but, as it is an odd shape and size, its purpose will be investigated.

At the end of the clearing period the torc will be scanned in place to record its position to fractions of a millimetre before being removed, probably along with some of the other jewellery surrounding it.
moss Posted by moss
5th December 2014ce

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