In 2009, one of the most important single items of Irish Bronze Age gold metalwork was discovered close to the shore of Upper Lough Erne at Corrard, near Belle Isle, County Fermanagh. Corrard townland forms a low lying peninsula projecting into Upper Lough Erne. The field where the torc was discovered is boggy, characterised by coarse grass and reed growth which is prone to flooding. Investigation of the site by the Centre for Archaeological fieldwork at Queen’s University, Belfast, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, recovered no other objects of relevance to the torc. Neither are there archaeological monuments of Bronze Age date in the immediate vicinity.
The Corrard torc belongs to a ‘type’ known as gold bar torcs, traditionally interpreted as items of jewellery possibly worn around the neck or waist. Gold bar torcs of this type were fashionable in Ireland, Britain and France c.1300-1100BC. What makes the Corrard torc particularly remarkable is the deliberate coiling and compressing prior to burial.
The torc in its coiled state measures c.22 cm in length and in its present condition could not have been worn (Pl. 1). It was originally designed to form a large circular hoop with two solid terminals at either end which are bent back and act as interlocking clasps to allow the torc to be fastened and unfastened, acting rather like a clasp on a necklace (Pls. 2-3). The main body of the torc takes the form of a thin cross-section which has four flanges (+). These were created from working and hammering a square bar. The flanges are twisted along their entire length in a clockwise direction creating a spiral ribbon-like appearance. This treatment gives the object its typological name – a four-flange twisted bar torc. The word ‘torc’, derived from the Latin ‘to twist,’ refers to the twisting of the square bar and not the deliberate coiling.
To read the full report on the Corrard Torc by Dr Greer Ramsey download the pdf below.