PAS-845331: Iron Age jewellery from the Winchester Hoard

Rights Holder: The British Museum
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Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

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Unique ID: PAS-845331

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A hoard of gold jewellery items dating from the Iron Age. The contents of the hoard are as follows:

(1) Brooch 1: gold, Knotenfibeln, bow; found still attached to the chain (see (3)).
(2) Brooch 2: gold, Knotenfibeln, bow, identical to (1).
(3) Chain: made from interlinked rings of gold wire; at each end is a gold collar and hook/ring for attachment to the matching terminals on brooches (1) and (2).
(4) Brooch 3: gold, bow, with ring for attachment of chain (not found).
(5) Brooch 4: gold, bow, with ring for attachment of chain (not found).
(6) Bracelet: gold, complete, penannular.
(7) Bracelet half: gold.
(8) Bracelet half: gold.
(9) Necklace/Torc 1: made from interlinked rings of gold wire, decorated cylinder terminal at one end.
(10) Necklace/ Torc 2: similar construction to (9), but smaller.

This set of objects is one of the most important discoveries of Iron Age gold objects made in the last 50 years. The hoard contains what appear to be two sets of personal jewellery. There are two necklace torcs and two pairs of brooches. There is also a single pair of bracelets or ingots.

Discussion: All the objects from this hoard are unique or very unusual. The only closely dateable objects are the gold brooches. Iron Age gold brooches are even rarer than silver brooches, such as that found at Shillington (see above no. 7). Perhaps less than a dozen gold Iron Age brooches are known from Europe north of the Alps, and only two were known from Britain before this discovery. Both pairs of brooches belong to types of fibula (safety-pin style brooches) commonly made in bronze and iron across central and west Europe in the middle of the 1st Century BC (the archaeological period known as La Tène D2). Brooches 1 and 2 are gold versions of a type of Knotenfibeln, known in bronze from south-east England. The other brooches are gold versions of a type made in bronze that is found mostly in France. Both pairs of brooches were originally linked by chains, but only one chain has survived. There is clear evidence that these brooches were worn before being deposited. The bracelets are undecorated and less well finished than the other objects. These bracelets have no immediate parallel.

The most unusual objects are the necklace-torcs. No other objects of this type have so far been found from Iron Age temperate Europe. These objects appear to be versions of traditional Iron Age torcs, an important status symbol, made in a very different way, using Roman or Hellenistic Greek technology. They must have been made by Roman or Hellenistic trained craftspeople. The necklaces are very flexible, made using loop-in-loop techniques usually used by Classical goldworkers to make fine jewellery chains. The terminals of the necklace-torcs are ornamented with fine soldered open wire work, and the smaller necklace-torc also has very fine filigree and granulation. Both show evidence that they were worn.

Dimensions and metal content:
(1) Length: 60mm; weight: 22.2g.
(2) Length: 60mm; weight: 22.5g.
(3) Length: 170mm; thickness: 4.4mm; weight: 23.6g.
(4) Length: 80mm; weight: 20.7g.
(5) Length: 80mm; weight: 20.5g.
(6) Diameter: 90mm; weight: 94.1g.
(7) Weight: 53.3g.
(8) Weight: 53.1g.
(9) Length: 480mm; thickness: 11mm; weight: 516.7g.
(10) Length: 440mm; thickness: 8.3mm; weight:332.1g.

X-ray fluorescence analysis conducted at the BritishMuseum indicated approximate gold contents as:
(1) 94 per cent. (2) 94 per cent. (3) 94 per cent. (4) 92per cent. (5) 91 per cent. (6) 95 per cent. (7) 99 percent. (8) 99 per cent. (9) 94 per cent. (10) 97 per cent.


This finds qualifies as Treasure under the termso f the Treasure Act 1996, in terms of both age and precious metal content.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: British Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: PEE72


Broad period: IRON AGE
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: IRON AGE
Subperiod to: Late
Period to: IRON AGE
Date from: Circa 100 BC
Date to: Circa

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1

Personal details

Recorded by: Mr Ian Richardson
Identified by: Dr Jeremy Hill

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: PEE72

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: Winchester (District)
To be known as: Winchester

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Found September - December 2000
Current location: British Museum

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: PAS
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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