Heinz 57: an unusual torc terminal from Snettisham.

The Heinz 57 terminal from Snettisham (thus named by us according to its place in the Norwich Castle Museum display and its rather unusual form) has been largely ignored in academic literature. Being known more formally as 1991,0501.45 in the British Museum catalogue, this terminal was found in the mixed Hoard F from Snettisham.

This hoard comprises a number of pieces of torc, ingots and wire, etc with many showing evidence of burning and splatters of molten metal on several pieces, including Heinz 57 (more from Roland on this splatter will come in a future blog).

The terminal itself is highly unusual: the decorative style most closely relates to the Plastic-decorated Grotesque torc, and the manufacturing method, as will be shown below, is so far unique in hollow ring torcs.

The Grotesque torc (Image © The Trustees of the British Museum)

Currently, the terminal is catalogued by the British Museum as being cast (see here) but we can show that this assumption is incorrect and that the terminal is in fact yet another sheet worked example. The first clue to its sheet origins came when we looked at the weight of the terminal: despite being 44mm x 43mm x 15mm in dimension, it weighs only 22g. When compared with the cast Sedgeford terminal – which has dimensions of 50.8mm x 43mm x 20.3mm and weighs 117g – it rapidly became clear that the Heinz 57 terminal was unlikely to be cast. Therefore, we added this terminal to our ‘hit list’ of torcs to see and it did not disappoint when we finally came face to face.

The seam clearly visible in the core

As can clearly be seen, this torc terminal is not only sheet but is also, rather unusually, created in three pieces: two half shells to form the terminal and an extra, now remnant sheet to form the collar.

Fig 4_Mini grotesque schematic

Heinz 57 schematic showing method of making (Image © R. Williamson)

For the terminal, the sheet joins appear to have been smoothed over on the exterior of the torc , whereas in the core area, a few dots of solder are all that holds the two shells together. For the collar, it would appear that an overlapping sheet method has been used to join the collar to terminal. This is similar to that seen in the Netherurd terminal, although in Heinz 57 it would appear to be a less well achieved/finished join, possibly using solder.


Interior of Heinz 57 showing relief decoration (Image © The Trustees of the British Museum)

The relief decoration of the terminal would appear to be carried out using the repoussé technique, which would have been easily achieved on the two shells prior to their joining. However, it may also be that an exterior working technique as discussed here may have been used as the interior in places does seem mottled. The most probable method is a mix of the two techniques. Interestingly, over much of the exterior surface, the terminal appears to have been punched/stippled and this too echoes the Grotesque torc.

In terms of date, it seems likely that this small terminal represents an early torc, perhaps contemporary with the Grotesque torc. Current theories (e.g. Joy, etc) suggest the Grotesque torc dates to the 3rd century BC. However, we would argue for a possibly earlier date, perhaps even as far back as the 4th century. The similar decorative style might put Heinz 57 in this same date bracket, however, the prominent differences in construction technique could suggest that these two torcs are not contemporary.


As has been shown above, Heinz 57, can be shown to be a sheet worked torc: its weight, construction technique and visual evidence clearly shows this. In addition, it’s ‘early’ decorative style and unusual ‘two part’ terminal shell make it an extremely interesting torc. In terms of date it appears to be more in keeping with an earlier period of torc manufacture, as seen in the Grotesque torc

We are currently looking at Hoard F, as we believe the material within shows a number of characteristics to suggest that this hoard represents a cache of Iron Age material which has earlier manufacturing dates than that recovered from many of the other Snettisham hoards. However, although the material within this hoard does appear to be manufactured earlier in date than, say, the classic ring/torus torcs of other hoards, we also believe that the deposition of this material may be late and in keeping with the dates of the other hoards from the site.

More on this in due course….

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