What exactly is a Torc?

A Torc (also spelled ‘torque’ or ‘torq’) is a large ring made out of precious metal, usually open at one end and worn around the neck. The word comes from the Latin ‘torquis’, meaning ‘to twist’, as a lot of pieces are twisted in shape.

They were most often made of gold or bronze, but torcs of silver, copper and other metals have been found too. Gold, bronze, and silver are the metals that are the most durable, so naturally, the most examples we have today are made from one of these three. The majority of torcs are open at the front and designed to be worn permanently, although some have been discovered with clasps and other closing mechanisms.


Top- The Snettisham Great Torc, a Late Iron Age torc (1st century BC), found on Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk (England), in 1950. The hoop is composed of eight strands of electrum twisted together, each strand being made up of eight twisted wires. The hollow ring-terminals are soldered to the hoops. The relief decoration on the terminals would have been cast with the terminals themselves, but details have been added by chasing. This piece was found with a gold bracelet and part of another torc; a small coin was found in the torc. D 19.5cm

Bottom right Two North British Ag€ armlets (1st-2nd century AD).

Published by Peter Lopez

Peter is a lifelong student of art with a particular passion for jewelry, vintage European cars, movies, books, and history.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: