Inspiration and History of the Celtic Torc

Inspiration and History of the Celtic Torc

Silver Torc Tie Pin

While I recently looked at the different designs used in Bronze Age torcs and lunulaes.

I now wanted to investigate the reason why the Celts place such importance in these items of jewelry. What inspired them to make these elaborate items and who was the intended wearer?

The Celts were known for their love of gold trinkets and fine jewelry. This is evident from their weaponry to the many fine examples of jewelry that still exist today. In one book I read I found a quote by a Greek historian Strabo (63BC - 24AD) who mocked the Celts love of jewelry. He wrote about their 'childish boastfulness and love of decoration. They wear ornaments of gold, torcs on their necks, and bracelets on their arms and is this vanity which makes them so unbearable in victory...'

From the research done there appears to be a number of reasons why the torc was the most prestigious item of Celtic jewelry. The most important being as a sign of wealth and status. Fathers would pass their torcs on to their sons, which could indicate that the torc was also used as a badge of leadership. From the stone carvings still in existence there also seems to be a ritual association. Many of the Celtic deities would be shown wearing or holding a torc. And their is evidence that torcs were used in votive offerings.

This would suggest that the Celts also placed a lot of importance in the supernatural power of the torc. This is alluded to in tales such as the Irish story 'The Cattle Raid of Cooley' where Morann wore a magical torc which tightened around his neck whenever he gave a false judgement. Torcs were also believed to act as a talisman, providing the wearer with some mystical form of protection. Some Celtic warriors would go naked into battle with only their weapons and a torc on their neck! 

Silver Torc Cufflinks

Of course here at Claddagh Design, we create a lot of jewelry based on the Torc design. For example, Pendants such as this Gold Celtic Torc Pendant.

Gold Celtic Torc Pendant by Claddagh Design

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