[Torc in the Royal Irish Academy]

Wood engraving of a gold torc observed by the author in the Royal Irish Academy.

Image Details

Genre Scientific or Technical illustration
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites
Geographical Location
  • Royal Irish Academy - Named locality
  • Dublin - Town or city
  • Dublin - County
  • Leinster - Province
Keywords(s) Antiquities, Gold, Jewellery
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 3.7 cm x 3.2 cm
Published / created 1847

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account A summer visit to Ireland in 1846
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy p. 36
Source copy National Library of Ireland J 9141
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.

Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

At the Royal Irish Academy in Kildare Street, we were most fortunate in finding Mr. Clibborn, to whose kindness, and unwearied patience I owe a complete inspection of the innumerable treasures of Irish antiquity the museum contains. Old grinding-stones, with pots of mixed metal .found in the bogs, without a seam, rivetted together by brass nails; shoes without a join, double soled, and double-leathered, one pair of which is supposed to be that stood in by the Kings at their coronation. Old rings and seals, some of porcelain, one the signet // of Murtagh O'Neill. The Cross of Cong, the Crozier of Cashel so well described by Mr. Petrie as to require no repetition. Besides these, quantities of celts, and swords, daggers, and fibbiae, in bronze and silver. Collars or Torques gracefully twisted*; pledges, and fillets, of pure gold. The pledges are supposed to have been used in forming compacts, and vary in size from those small enough for an infant's wrist, to those suitable to the largest man's. The gold is so elastic, it easily expands, and the article is of this form, (I sketch from recollection) the upper parts hollow, and cymbal-shaped. Mr. Clibborn supposed this to be used as pledges between two or more parties. Also rings for ornament, or money as in present use in Africa. The head-ornaments, likewise of purest gold, exactly // resemble the pictures of Egyptian head-gear with rosettes at the ears. Indeed, we ladies in the present day, are wearing similar coiffures in lace or flowers, covering the ears. We saw the celebrated Book of Armagh with its embossed silver cover, and curious leathern case.

*Appendix G – Page 36. / Two golden collars, or torques, found about twenty-five years ago, on the Hill of Tara, the residence of the Irish Monarchs anterior to the sixth century. The first is 5 ft. 7 in. in length, and weighs 27 oz. 9 dwts. The second is 5 ft. 6 in. in length, but weighs only 12 oz. 6 dwts. These torques are of a screw, or a spiral pattern, and though the design is rude, the workmanship is of great beauty. Torques of similar size and pattern have been frequently found in Ireland, // and are often accompanied by armillae, or bracelets of the same description. 'The term torques, by which antiquarians usually designate these ornaments, is one of frequent occurrence in the classic authors. The word is generally derived from the Celtic torc, a twisted collar, or perhaps more correctly, a twisted circular ornament of any kind, as the ancient Irish called a collar or neck-chain, mun-torc. And since the Latin verb, torqueo, has no cognate in Greek, it is probably formed from the same Celtic root. Collars of this kind seem to have been common to all the Celtic nations, as we find from ancient writers. Livy tells us that Publius Cornelius, in his triumph over the Boii — a Gallic nation, collected among the spoils one thousand four hundred and seventy torques; and we find in Propertius that Virdumarus, King of the Gauls, wore such an ornament. Dio Cassius notices a tore of this description, as ornamenting the person of the British Queen, Boadicea; and even within a few centuries of the present time, a Welsh Prince was called Llewellin aur Dorchag, or Llewellin of the Golden Tore. The torcs found in France and Wales, are exactly similar to the Irish It does not appear that they were generally worn by the Romans; and the very appellation Torquatus, which was bestowed upon Titus Manlius, from the golden // torc taken by him from a Gaul, whom he slew in the year of Rome 393, and which was continued as a surname in his family, seems to indicate, that the torc was not familiar to the Romans at that time. — See Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. I. p. 274-6. [pp. 35-37; 276-278]
Torc in the Royal Irish Academy