I mentioned last week that I'm currently designing our new womens range. As part of that I'm doing lots of research in different items of jewelry in the National Museum of Ireland. Here's a short piece on the history of Irish Bronze Age torcs. The function of jewellery in history has always been to convey status. This is most especially true of the torc whose size and weight by itself could communicate the power of the wearer.
Torcs were produced in Ireland during the middle and late Bronze Age. This period of time resulted in the highest production of gold ornaments in Ireland. It was considered a high status object for personal adornment and is seen as a symbol of wealth and importance. The gold torc of the Bronze Age was understood to have a ritual significance often being buried with the dead as their currency in the next life, to have functioned as a signifier of royalty or status.
The torc was one of the most common types of gold ornamentation and takes a number of forms. It can be similar to the Early Bronze Age lunulaes which are flat and crescent in shape. Although the torc would tradionally be heavier as a more substantial quantitiy of gold was used. The other type of torc is the twisted collars. These were made using new techniques developed by goldsmiths in the Middle Bronze Age. They began to produce multi faceted ornaments by twisting thin strips of gold sheet. This technique was used to make an array of other jewellery such as earrings, bracelets and hair decoration. This process which often involves a technique known as anticlastic raising is still used by silversmiths and goldsmiths today.
The National Museum of Ireland has an an amazing exhibiton of Irish Bronze Age gold entitled Ór (the Irish word for gold). This exhibit is considered to be one of the greatest museum collections in Europe and traces the development from the early lunulaes and sun discs to the Late Bronze Age torcs and collars. You will find a Celtic Knot Torc Pendant in our store.