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Welcome to The Big Book of Torcs!

In 2015, a chance email conversation about Iron Age hollow-torus (ring) torcs between Roland Williamson, a replica maker, and Tess Machling, an archaeologist and researcher, began with the apparently innocuous comment by Roland that ‘They are thought to have had the terminals cast directly onto the rope collar…. It is far too risky a method I think.’

Although it sounds like a random hunch, it was a comment informed by 35 years of crafting museum-quality replicas and other items. Thirty-five years of experience, knowledge, learning and mistakes said there was something wrong about the way scholars assumed these torcs had been made.

The Newark torc (Image © The National Civil War Museum)

Because of this, they began to search the academic literature to see why and how this casting-on theory had developed. The search showed that although casting-on was assumed to be the manufacturing method in all cases there was, and is, very little evidence for many of the hollow-torus torcs to back up this assumption.

The results of their work have been published in blogs, newsletters and academic papers which describe a new, gold sheet-working, manufacturing method for several of the torcs, and offer some ideas of the implications of these new findings. In addition, for those high craft gold hollow-torus torcs that do have cast terminals, they have shown that none of these are cast-on, as had been previously assumed, but were instead cast separately before being attached to the wire neck rings. Only very low quality and percentage gold, silver and copper alloys were ever cast on, and almost all of these are faulty.

The Netherurd terminal (Image © The National Museums of Scotland)

In May 2022, Roland decided to seek pastures new, and so the research is now being continued by Tess.

The aim of this site is to share research into British Iron Age torcs. By using this format I hope this site will become a ‘one-stop shop’ for all things Iron Age torc related, be it the torcs themselves, goldworking techniques, related crafts, torc finders, the history of torc study… and there may even be a few chocolate torcs too!

I would like this to be an interactive site, so please feel free to comment, add suggestions and tell us what you think. I particularly welcome the input of skilled gold- and silversmiths and craftspeople: as you will see from our Torc Collective page, the work is firmly based on collaborative working. I hope you enjoy it.

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