Beecroft Bequest helps Ely Museum acquire bronze age gold torc

Patrick Steel, 04.10.2017
Torc found by detectorist in East Cambridgeshire
The Museums Association (MA) Beecroft Bequest has helped Ely Museum acquire a gold torc dating from around 1300-1100 BC.

The gold torc, which was found by a metal detectorist in a field in East Cambridgeshire and offered to the museum through the Treasure Act, is one of the heaviest and longest torcs of its type ever found in Britain or Ireland.

Experts are not clear how the torc was used, as is too large to be a necklace or belt, but it is thought it may have been designed to be worn over heavy clothes or made for a pregnant woman, a statue or a ceremonial animal.

It is made using exceptionally-skilled goldworking technique and has three components: two trumpet-shaped terminals and a long gold bar, which has been twisted and burnished.

Ely Museum acquired the torc with grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, the Beecroft Bequest, and private donations.

MA board member Simon Brown, who is the chair of the Beecroft Bequest, said: "We are delighted that the Beecroft Bequest has been able to contribute a grant towards this acquisition for Ely Museum.

"The Beecroft Bequest was established under the terms of the will of Walter G Beecroft, who wished for it to fund the acquisition of exceptional pieces of pre-19th century art for public collections.

"This torc is an incredibly beautiful piece of work, and adds to our understanding of the area at this period. We look forward to seeing it on display at Ely Museum."