RIBBON TORC

KNOCK, CO. ROSCOMMON
3RD CENTURY BC
GOLD
14.5 CM
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND, DUBLIN

This torc is very simply made in comparison to the buffer torc found at Knock; a narrow gold ribbon was twisted and formed into a circle. In this example, the twisting is slightly imperfect and asymmetrical. The ends were worked into round rods that terminated in cones with recessed ends, on which were fitted hollow, spherical knobs, or expanded dish terminals. According to archaeologist W. R. Wilde, the terminals explain a quote from a manuscript that previously had been a mystery to scholars: "two apples or balls of gold on the two forks of his muinche [neck-torc]."

The man who found this torc in 1861, along with a gold buffer torc, claimed that he found them in a cavern in Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly. Archaeologist A. Ireland published an article for the Royal Irish Academy in 1992 in which he proved that the torcs were actually found in Ardnaglug bog in Knock, Co. Roscommon. Knock is only seven miles away from Clonmacnoise, and the bog actually spans both areas. Ireland believes that the man who originally found the torcs wanted to keep the find spot a secret so that he could have access to all other gold objects that could have been buried there.

Although the Knock ribbon torc is simpler than the buffer torc with which it was found, it has more elaborate terminals in comparison to other ribbon torcs, such as the one found in Antrim. Although the terminals are more elaborate, the actual twisting of the torc is less finished.

Scholars continue to engage in controversy over the cultural and chronological context of this torc. Dr. B. Raftery argues that it is difficult to group ribbon torcs chronologically because those found in Ireland are usually found with other types of torcs that are dated to different phases. Archaeologist G. Eogan thought that ribbon torcs belonged to the Bishopland Phase; however, the gold content of this torc is different from other objects from that phase and suggests that the torc may be a La Tène import. In his catalogue entry for this torc, Mitchell writes that twisted torcs were typically found in Bronze Age Ireland, but that the hollow terminals also suggest that this torc may have been imported from La Tène Europe. Because of these two characteristics, scholars typically date the Knock ribbon torc to the 3rd century BCE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

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