'Most spectacular' giant golden Bronze Age torc uncovered in Cambridgeshire

The giant golden torc uncovered in CambridgeshireThe giant golden torc uncovered in Cambridgeshire
The giant golden torc uncovered in Cambridgeshire
A Bronze Age golden torc, one of the largest and most spectacular to be found, has been uncovered in Cambridgeshire.

The torc, dating from 1100 to 1300 BC, would have been normally worn around the neck, but this one, weighing 732g, is too large to fit a person’s waist and may have been designed to be worn over thick winter clothing, as a sash, or by a prized animal in the course of a sacrifice.

It is one of thousands of archaeological finds made by members of the public last year, a report reveals.

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The 82,272 discoveries were made mostly by people who were metal-detecting, according to the Portable Antiquities Scheme annual report launched at the British Museum.

More than a thousand discoveries of “treasure” - such as gold or silver ornaments or coin collections and prehistoric metalwork - were made in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year, the report reveals.

The 1,008 finds included a Roman grave in Hertfordshire and a hoard of Viking Age objects and Anglo-Saxon coins in a field near Watlington, Oxfordshire.

Archaeological items, the majority of which were found on cultivated land where items can be at risk of damage from ploughing and corrosion, ranged from thousands of stone flints to a rare Bronze Age shield in Suffolk.

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An Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl mount was discovered in West Sussex and dates from 600 to 725 AD. It is decorated with swirling motifs set against bright red enamel and glass inlay and the hook at the top is moulded into an animal’s head.

A large rare hoard of 463 silver coin clippings and fragments from Gloucestershire are thought to have been buried around the time of the “great recoinage” in 1696, when all pre-1662 hand-struck coinage was recalled and turned into machine-struck coins.

The move produced a bout of “clipping” - removing silver from the edge - of the old money, a criminal activity for which perpetrators faced the death penalty.

The clippings found in Gloucestershire show the complete removal of the inscription from the coins, which include half-crowns, shillings and sixpences dating from 1554 to 1662.

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Finds reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme revealed new archaeological sites including an English Civil War siege in Shropshire and a Roman villa in Wiltshire.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Heritage, said: “The Portable Antiquities Scheme enables us to learn more about our nation’s history and preserve and safeguard treasure for generations to come.

“New discoveries keep getting made every year through the scheme that then find their way into our wonderful museums across the country.”

More than 1.2 million finds have been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, managed by the British Museum with local and national partners, since 1997.