Neck collar, c. 100-200 AD
Bronze
29.9 (width) x 161 (diameter) mm
Isle of Portland, England

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Discovered on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England, this bronze neck collar or ‘torc’ is a substantial piece of jewellery. Around ten torcs like this one are known, and most come from south-west England, suggesting a local fashion. None have been found in graves, so we do not know whether they were worn by men, women, or both. But it is clear that this eye-catching accessory made a powerful statement about its owner’s wealth and status. When new, it would have been a golden colour, and it was originally set with red glass studs. It is cleverly designed, with a hinge at the back and a small hidden clasp at the front. The two halves, which wrap around the neck, are decorated with sinuous S-shaped curves, in a style that today we call ‘Celtic art’. This torc was made several generations after the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. Although peoples across Europe had worn metal neck rings for hundreds of years, this style was new. Innovative forms and fashions emphasised local identities in the changing world of Britain under Roman rule.

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