Ancient treasure or vintage car spring?


Would you confuse this piece of gold with the spring from a vintage car? Well, one accidental treasure finder did (pic from The History Blog).

The torc, which has now gone on display in the Ulster Museum, Belfast, was found in a bog near Corrard, Co Fermanagh, which as far as I can tell is between Maguiresbridge and the Belle Isle Hotel. Google Maps is fairly blank on the region.

Anyway, Ronnie Johnston dug it up there, cleaned it off, and kept it in a cupboard for two years until he saw a picture of a torc in a magazine and thought it looked like the piece of twisted metal he had stashed away. His find is about 3,000 years old.

A coroner’s court agree it was treasure, and it was subsequently bought by Northern Ireland’s department of culture. The style links it to other finds in Ireland, the UK, and France, so it may suggest a cultural or trade link with those areas, or even the possibility that the owner came from there. We’ll never know, much as we’ll never know how it ended up in a bog (an offering, I suppose).

According to the Press Association:

Many mysteries still surround this gold torc. In its present condition the torc could not be worn as it has been deliberately coiled, appearing rather like a large spring. But the torc was originally designed to form a large circular hoop with two solid connections at either end. These are believed to have acted as interlocking clasps to allow the torc to be fastened and unfastened.

For me the main mystery is how somebody would confuse something that is clearly gold and not at all rusted with a piece of metal from a car. Or am I being cruel?

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