Bid to keep 2,000-year-old Iron Age bracelet in Yorkshire
A bid to acquire a 2,000-year-old bracelet, one of the first pieces of Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England, has been launched by the Yorkshire Museum.
The intricate and rare gold torc, found in the bed of a stream near Towton, north Yorkshire in April 2011, has been valued at £30,000.
Around half the funds have been secured through a grant from a local charitable foundation, but the remainder must be raised by October.
The bracelet may have belonged to a member of the Brigantes tribe, which ruled most of north Yorkshire during the Iron Age.
The Yorkshire Museum hopes to reunite the torc with another bracelet, found in the same streambed in 2010. The items are similar in appearance, with the main body of the bracelet made up of two gold wires, twisted together.
The pieces were buried within metres of one other, almost certainly at the same time.
The first was purchased by the Yorkshire Museum in January last year for £25,000, following a public appeal for donations.
Similar bracelets have been found 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 torcs had been found only as far north as Newark in Nottinghamshire.
The torcs are similar in appearance to those found in the Snettisham Hoard from Norfolk, which was most likely royal treasure belonging to the Iceni.
This raises the possibility that the bracelets were spoils of war with the Iceni, a gift, or used in trade between the two tribes.
Natalie McCaul, curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, 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 rewrite 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.”
Peter Halkon, a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Hull, told historyextra: “A number of gold bracelets are know from late Bronze Age contexts in east Yorkshire, but certainly nothing as spectacular as the Towton finds.
“The close similarity between the Towton ‘torcs’ and those from the Snettisham hoard is intriguing. Were they part of a system of gift exchange between tribal leaders, or simply loot from raiding?
“Why were they found at this particular site? Was this a deliberate ritual deposit in a special place in the landscape?
“In order to be able to attempt to answer these questions it is essential the torcs stay in the region. The Yorkshire Museum is the obvious location for their long-term research and display.”
John Collis, a professor of archaeology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Most archaeologists would argue that the context of an object is important to understand it, and our interest is in more than the object itself.
“So, though there is a case for national and international museums, it is better if objects stay near where they were found, and that they are considered to be part of the history of the local community.
“In this case I would very much support attempts to keep the torc here in Yorkshire, and the Yorkshire Museum is the most obvious place for it.
“That is not to say that the finder should not be adequately rewarded for finding and reporting the object.”
For more information visit the Yorkshire Museum website or phone 01904 687671.