Three thousand years after a craftsman twisted 732g of pure gold into an intricately woven gold torc, the ancient ornament will be on display to the public this Saturday!
The beautiful piece – one of the largest of its kind ever found in Britain – has been the torc of the city since it was discovered by metal detector enthusiasts in an East Cambridgeshire field on September 26, 2015.
A gobsmacked finds liaison officer identified the Middle Bronze Age relic – but it took almost two years and over £200,000 of fundraising to bring the Great Gold Torc to Ely Museum last spring, with further public fundraising taking place throughout the summer.
Measuring 126.5 cm in length, the torc is one of the longest found Britain, Ireland and the near Continent and thought to be one of the best preserved to be found in England in over a century.
Neil Wilkin, curator of Bronze Age Europe at the British Museum, has described the torc’s workmanship as “astonishing”, according to Ely Museum.
“There has been much speculation about its use as it is so large. It may have been worn by pregnant women as a form or protection, or used to ornament a sacrificial animal.”
Shaped from a square section of a bar of gold, it was twisted and burnished to fashion a stiff belt-torc, twisted from four golden strands.
Excited staff at Ely Museum today posted on their Facebook page: “It has been three months since we were able to announce we had successfully raised all the money needed and that the torc would be coming home to East Cambridgeshire!
“It is now just days until the first members of the public will be able to visit the museum to see this amazing piece.”
Without generous grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Arts Council, the Arts Fund, the Headley Trust, the Museums Association and “many other generous individual donations”, it would not have been possible to acquire the Torc, the museum said.
The torc will be on permanent display at Ely Museum from this Saturday (September 7).
The museum is open from 10:30am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday.
Annual pass holders get free entry to the museum.