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Lochar Moss Torc returns after 150 years
Iron Age relics found on Lochar Moss have come “home” after 150 years.
Iron Age relics found on Lochar Moss have come “home” after 150 years.
Peat-cutters working near Comlongon Castle found a bag containing a bowl with a dismantled torc (neck ring) in the 1840s.
The torc is thought to have been a Celtic ritual offering and would have been worn as a sign of social status.
Both are now in the British Museum but are being loaned to Dumfries Museum for a new exhibition opening tomorrow.
The Great Moss, which runs until August 18, tells the story of one of the largest areas of raised bog in Europe.
The exhibition investigates the human and natural history of this area of peatland, focusing on archaeological finds and its unique ecology.
The Lochar Moss torc will go on display along with Bronze Age flint arrows and spearheads found before 1902 and in the National Museums of Scotland collection.
Biodiverity officer Peter Norman, whose extensive research led to the exhibition, will launch the exhibition at 7pm tonight.
Possibly on map sheet NY07NW and/or in Dumfries or Mouswald parish.
See also NY07SW 30 ('Racks Moss').
(Location cited as NY 04 71). Leather shoes from Lochar Moss were exhibited at the 1st meeting of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Antiquarian Society, for the 1872-3 session. They were also exhibited at an exhibition in the Mechanic's Hall, Dumfries, 7th July 1873: 'Item 194. Shoes found in 1871 on skeleton in Lochar Moss. Item 195. Being a piece of cloth in which the body had been buried. Lent by T. Corrie.'
T Cowie and C Wallace 2002 ('Lochar Moss 1').
Letter Books of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Antiquarian Society, Vol. 1, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Antiquarian Dept., p. 22 (undated) information from Mr James Williams.
(Location cited as NY c. 04 71). Lochar Moss 1, Torthorwald: the Letter Books of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society record the discovery in 1871 of a skeleton 'in the moss'. It was wrapped in or associated with a piece of cloth and a pair of leather sandals. The unassociated discovery of another leather sandal is recorded in 1709 at a depth of 9ft (2.7m). All these remains are now lost.
This discovery is one of at least three such discoveries from the area of this large raised bog, which has seen extensive peat-digging.
The remains from Lochar Moss and Racks Moss may be compared with those found in the wetlands of North-West England, most notably at Lindow Common (Cheshire), and dated to between the Late Bronze Age and the Romano-British period. There may be a link with the deposition of high status Roman metalwork in Lochar Moss.
Depictions of the gods and goddesses of Celtic mythology sometimes show them wearing or carrying torcs, as in images of the god Cernunnos wearing one torc around his neck, with torcs hanging from his antlers or held in his hand, as on the Gundestrup cauldron. This may represent the deity as the source of power and riches, as the torc was a sign of nobility and high social status.  The famous Roman copy of the original Greek sculpture The Dying Gaul depicts a wounded Gaulish warrior naked except for a torc, which is how Polybius described the gaesatae, Celtic warriors from modern northern Italy or the Alps, fighting at the Battle of Telamon in 225 BC, although other Celts there were clothed.  One of the earliest known depictions of a torc can be found on the Warrior of Hirschlanden (6th century BC), and a high proportion of the few Celtic statues of human figures, mostly male, show them wearing torcs.
Other possible functions that have been proposed for torcs include use as rattles in rituals or otherwise, as some have stones or metal pieces inside them, and representations of figures thought to be deities carrying torcs in their hand may depict this. Some are too heavy to wear for long, and may have been made to place on cult statues. Very few of these remain but they may well have been in wood and not survived. Torcs were clearly valuable, and often found broken in pieces, so being a store of value may have been an important part of their use. It has been noted that the Iberian gold examples seem to be made at fixed weights that are multiples of the Phoenician shekel. 
With bracelets, torcs are "the most important category of Celtic gold", though armlets and anklets were also worn in contrast finger-rings were less common among the early Celts.  The earliest Celtic torcs are mostly found buried with women, for example, the gold torc from the La Tène period chariot burial of a princess, found in the Waldalgesheim chariot burial in Germany, and others found in female graves at Vix in France (illustrated) and Reinheim. Another La Tène example was found as part of a hoard or ritual deposit buried near Erstfeld in Switzerland.  It is thought by some authors that the torc was mostly an ornament for women until the late 3rd century BC, when it became an attribute of warriors.  However there is evidence for male wear in the early period in a rich double burial of the Hallstatt period at Hochmichele, the man wears an iron torc and the female a necklace with beads.  A heavy torc in silver over an iron core with bull's head terminals, weighing over 6 kilos, from Trichtingen, Germany, probably dates to the 2nd century BC (illustrated). 
Many finds of torcs, especially in groups and in association with other valuables but not associated with a burial, are clearly deliberate deposits whose function is unclear. They may have been ritual deposits or hidden for safekeeping in times of warfare. Some may represent the work-in-progress of a workshop.  After the early period, torcs are especially prominent in the Celtic cultures reaching to a coast of the Atlantic, from modern Spain to Ireland, and on both sides of the English Channel.
Some very elaborately worked torcs with relief decoration in a late form of La Tène style have been found in Britain and Ireland, dating from roughly the 3rd to 1st centuries BC. There may be a connection with an older tradition in the British Isles of elaborate gold neckwear in the form of gold lunulas, which seem centred on Ireland in the Bronze Age, and later flat or curved wide collars gold twisted ribbon torcs are found from both periods, but also imported styles such as the fused-buffer.  The most elaborate late Insular torcs are thick and often hollow, some with terminals forming a ring or loop. The most famous English example is the 1st-century BC multi-stranded electrum Snettisham Torc found in northwestern Norfolk in England (illustrated),  while the single hollow torc in the Broighter Gold hoard, with relief decoration all round the hoop, is the finest example of this type from Ireland, also 1st century BC.  The Stirling Hoard, a rare find in Scotland of four gold torcs, two twisted ribbons, dating from the 3rd to 1st century BC was discovered in September 2009. 
The Roman Titus Manlius in 361 BC challenged a Gaul to single combat, killed him, and then took his torc. Because he always wore it, he received the nickname Torquatus (the one who wears a torc),  and it was adopted by his family. After this, Romans adopted the torc as a decoration for distinguished soldiers and elite units during Republican times. A few Roman torcs have been discovered.  Pliny the Elder records that after a battle in 386 BC (long before his lifetime) the Romans recovered 183 torcs from the Celtic dead, and similar booty is mentioned by other authors. 
It is not clear whether the Gallo-Roman "Warrior of Vacheres", a sculpture of a soldier in Roman military dress, wears a torc as part of his Roman uniform or as a reflection of his Celtic background. Quintilian says that the Emperor Augustus was presented by Gauls with a gold torc weighing 100 Roman pounds (nearly 33 kilos),  far too heavy to wear. A torc from the 1st century BC Winchester Hoard, is broadly in Celtic style but uses the Roman technique of laced gold wire, suggesting it may have been a "diplomatic gift" from a Roman to a British tribal king.  
A very late example of a torc used as ceremonial item in early Medieval Wales can be found in the writings of Gerald of Wales. The author wrote that there still existed a certain royal torc that had once been worn by Prince Cynog ap Brychan of Brycheiniog (fl. 492 AD) and was known as Saint Kynauc's Collar. Gerald encountered and described this relic first-hand while travelling through Wales in 1188. Of it he says, "it is most like to gold in weight, nature, and colour it is in four pieces wrought round, joined together artificially, and clefted as it were in the middle, with a dog's head, the teeth standing outward it is esteemed by the inhabitants so powerful a relic, that no man dares swear falsely when it is laid before him."  It is of course possible that this torc long pre-dated the reign of Prince Cynog and was a much earlier relic that had been recycled during the British Dark Ages to be used as a symbol of royal authority. It is now lost.
There are mentions in medieval compilations of Irish mythology for example in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (11th century) Elatha wore 5 golden torcs when meeting Eriu.  
Lochar Moss Torc - History
The Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory is responsible for collections that cover a vast expanse of time, from the earliest human tools in Africa and Asia two million years ago to the art and archaeology of Europe from the earliest times to the present day, including the history of Britain under Roman occupation.
Curators in the department are experts on a wide variety of subjects, from areas such as Palaeolithic Archaeology (Old Stone Age) in Europe and around the world, Neolithic (New Stone Age), Bronze Age and Iron Age Archaeology in Europe and Roman Britain. Specialists cover many aspects of Medieval, Renaissance and Modern European culture, including twentieth-century design from North America.
The department currently has eleven galleries displaying highlights from its collections. As well as exhibitions, we are involved in a wide range of research, excavations and publications and also actively communicate with the public through radio and television programmes and new media.
Staff are engaged in helping members of the public with enquiries, the identification of objects and scholarly research. An important part of the department’s work is connected with finds of Treasure from England and supporting the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Medieval Europe (Room 40)
The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery
The recently refurbished Medieval Europe gallery showcases many of the world’s greatest medieval treasures. British, European and Byzantine objects tell the story of a period of great change when territorial wars and political turmoil shaped the continent we know today.
From the power and dominance of the Church in everyday life, to the social change spread through Europe by a new merchant class, unique and famous objects provide a gateway to the major developments of the age. The ritual and protocol of the royal court is explored, as well as the cultural, intellectual and political exchange brought about by travel, trade and pilgrimage. Examples of sacred art also show how the divine was represented at the time.
Sutton Hoo and Europe (Room 41)
The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
The centuries AD 300–1100 witnessed great change in Europe. The Roman Empire broke down in the west, but continued as the Byzantine Empire in the east. People, objects and ideas travelled across the continent, while Christianity and Islam emerged as major religions. By 1100, the precursors of several modern states had developed. Europe as we know it today was taking shape. Room 41 gives an overview of the period and its peoples. Its unparalleled collections range from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, and from North Africa to Scandinavia. The gallery’s centrepiece is the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk – one of the most spectacular and important discoveries in British archaeology.
Europe 1400–1800 (Room 46)
The period dating from the late Middle Ages until the end of the eighteenth century was a time of great social change. Political revolution, religious upheaval and the discovery of new continents radically influenced European life.
Through objects of the decorative and applied arts, Room 46 charts the expansion of international trade, the growth of modern cities and the major developments in the arts and sciences that established the broad outline of modern European civilisation.
The direct influence of the Italian Renaissance on the material culture of the time can also be seen in objects on display.
Europe 1800–1900 (Room 47)
The nineteenth century saw unprecedented economic growth in Europe, accompanied by immense social and political upheavals. For Britain it was a period of stability and industrial supremacy. On the continent, France underwent three revolutions, while the second half of the century saw the unification of Germany and Italy.
The nationalist sentiment that lay behind these events often paid homage to the great ages of the past. This is reflected in the objects shown in Room 47, many of which have borrowed motifs from earlier historical periods.
During this period, international exhibitions fostered the growth of machine technology, yet traditional craftsmanship flourished alongside.
Europe 1900 to the present (Room 48)
Room 48 examines changing ideas about how objects should look, and the desire to make well-designed objects available to a wider audience. Many of the objects on display show how designers in the West have drawn inspiration from other cultures, past and present.
Highlights include Continental Art Nouveau, Germany’s Darmstadt artists’ colony and the Bauhaus, Russian Revolutionary porcelain and American applied arts between the two World Wars.
The Museum is actively collecting objects from the 20th century and the display continues to change as new acquisitions are made.
Roman Britain (Room 49)
The Weston Gallery
AD 43 – 410
The Roman occupation of Britain dramatically transformed the material culture of the province. Imported goods and settlers from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa created a richer, more diverse society and a wealth of mosaics, wall paintings, sculpture, glassware and metalwork was produced.
The laws, administration, currency, architecture, engineering, religion and art of Rome met Britain’s Iron Age societies to create a distinctive ‘Romano-British’ identity, which is illustrated in Room 49 through a variety of objects and artworks.
Britain and Europe 800 BC–AD 43 (Room 50)
The Iron Age was a time of dramatic change for the people of Britain and Europe. Iron replaced bronze as the material used to make tools and weapons, while religion, art, daily life, economics and politics changed dramatically.
The story of these civilisations (known to the Greeks and Romans as Britons, Celts, Germans and Iberians) and their distinct material cultures, is told through decorated Iron Age artefacts known as ‘Celtic Art’ and more everyday objects.
Europe and Middle East 10,000–800 BC (Room 51)
Farming began in the Middle East around 12,000 years ago, making possible the social, cultural and economic changes which shaped the modern world. It arrived in Britain around 6000 years ago bringing a new way of life. This change in lifestyle meant people competed for wealth, power and status, displaying these through jewellery, weapons and feasting.
The objects on display in Room 51 show how the people of prehistoric Europe celebrated life and death and expressed their relationship with the natural world, the spirit world and each other.
See this gallery on the floor plan
Ancient Iran (Room 52) tells the story of the birth of farming in the Middle East.
Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory
The Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory was established in 1969 and is responsible for collections that cover a vast expanse of time and geography. It includes some of the earliest objects made by humans in east Africa over 2 million years ago, as well as Prehistoric and neolithic objects from other parts of the world and the art and archaeology of Europe from the earliest times to the present day. Archeological excavation of prehistoric material took off and expanded considerably in the twentieth century and the department now has literally millions of objects from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods throughout the world, as well as from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron age in Europe. Stone Age material from Africa has been donated by famous archaeologists such as Louis and Mary Leakey, and Gertrude Caton–Thompson. Paleolithic objects from the Sturge, Christy and Lartet collections include some of the earliest works of art from Europe. Many Bronze Age objects from across Europe were added during the nineteenth century, often from large collections built up by excavators and scholars such as Greenwell in Britain, Tobin and Cooke in Ireland, Lukis and de la Grancière in Brittany, Worsaae in Denmark, Siret at El Argar in Spain, and Klemm and Edelmann in Germany. A representative selection of Iron Age artefacts from Hallstatt were acquired as a result of the Evans/Lubbock excavations and from Giubiasco in Ticino through the Swiss National Museum.
In addition, the British Museum’s collections covering the period AD 300 to 1100 are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world, extending from Spain to the Black Sea and from North Africa to Scandinavia a representative selection of these has recently been redisplayed in a newly refurbished gallery. Important collections include Latvian, Norwegian, Gotlandic and Merovingian material from Johann Karl Bähr, Alfred Heneage Cocks, Sir James Curle and Philippe Delamain respectively. However, the undoubted highlight from the early mediaeval period are the magnificent items from the Sutton Hoo royal grave, generously donated to the nation by the landowner Edith Pretty. The department includes the national collection of horology with one of the most wide-ranging assemblage of clocks, watches and other timepieces in Europe, with masterpieces from every period in the development of time-keeping. Choice horological pieces came from the Morgan and Ilbert collections. The department is also responsible for the curation of Romano-British objects – the museum has by far the most extensive such collection in Britain and one of the most representative regional collections in Europe outside Italy. It is particularly famous for the large number of late Roman silver treasures, many of which were found in East Anglia, the most important of which is the Mildenhall Treasure. The museum purchased many Roman-British objects from the antiquarian Charles Roach Smith in 1856. These quickly formed the nucleus of the collection.
Objects from the Department of Prehistory and Europe are mostly found on the upper floor of the museum, with a suite of galleries numbered from 38 to 51. Most of the collection is stored in its archive facilities, where it is available for research and study.
Key highlights of the collections include:
Stone Age (c. 3.4 million years BC – c. 2000 BC)
Palaeolithic material from across Africa, particularly Olduvai, Kalambo Falls, Olorgesailie and Cape Flats, (1.8 million BC onwards)
One of the 11 leaf-shaped points found near Volgu, Saône-et-Loire, France and estimated to be 16,000 years old
Ice Age art from France including the Wolverine pendant of Les Eyzies, Montastruc decorated stone and Baton fragment, (c. 12–11,000 BC)
Ice Age art from Britain including the decorated jaw from Kendrick and Robin Hood Cave Horse, (11,500–10,000 BC)
Rare mesolithic artefacts from the site of Star Carr in Yorkshire, northern England, (8770–8460 BC)
Terracotta figurine from Vinča, Serbia, (5200–4900 BC)
Callaïs bead jewellery from Lannec-er-Ro’h and triangular pendant from Mané-er-Hroëk, Morbihan, Brittany, western France, (4700–4300 BC)
Section of the Sweet Track, an ancient timber causeway from the Somerset Levels, England, (3807/6 BC)
A number of Carved Stone Balls from Scotland, Ireland and northern England, (3200–2500 BC)
The three Folkton Drums, made from chalk and found in Yorkshire, northern England, (2600–2100 BC)
Bronze Age (c. 3300 BC – c. 600 BC)
Jet beaded necklace from Melfort in Argyll, Scotland, (c.3000 BC)
Gold lunula from Blessington, Ireland, one of nine from Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, (2400–2000 BC)
Early Bronze Age hoards from Snowshill, Driffield and Barnack in England, Arraiolos and Vendas Novas in Iberia and Neunheilingen and Biecz in central Europe (2280–1500 BC)
Contents of the Rillaton Barrow including a gold cup, and the related Ringlemere Cup, England, (1700–1500 BC)
Bronze Age hoards from Zsujta, Forró and Paks-Dunaföldvár in Hungary, (1600–1000 BC)
Large ceremonial swords or dirks from Oxborough and Beaune, western Europe, (1450–1300 BC)
Bronze shields from Moel Hebog and Rhyd-y-gors, Wales, (12th–10th centuries BC)
Gold hoards from Morvah and Towednack in Cornwall, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Mooghaun in Ireland, (1150–750 BC)
Dunaverney flesh-hook found near Ballymoney, Northern Ireland and part of the Dowris Hoard from County Offaly, Ireland, (1050–900 BC & 900–600 BC)
Late Bronze Age gold hoard from Abia de la Obispalía, Spain and an intricate gold collar from Sintra, Portugal, (10th–8th centuries BC)
Iron Age (c. 600 BC – c. 1st century AD)
Basse Yutz Flagons, a pair of bronze drinking vessels from Moselle, eastern France, (5th century BC)
Morel collection of La Tène material from eastern France, including the Somme-Bionne chariot burial and the Prunay Vase, (450-300BC)
Important finds from the River Thames including the Wandsworth Shield, Battersea Shield and Waterloo Helmet, as well as the Witham Shield from Lincolnshire, eastern England, (350–50 BC)
Pair of gold collars called the Orense Torcs from northwest Spain, (300–150 BC)
Other gold neck collars including the Ipswich Hoard and the Sedgeford Torc, England, (200–50 BC)
Winchester Hoard of gold jewellery from southern England and the Great Torc from Snettisham in Norfolk, East Anglia, (100 BC)
Cordoba and Arcillera Treasures, two silver Celtic hoards from Spain, (100–20 BC)
Lindow Man found by accident in a peat bog in Cheshire, England, (1st century AD)
Stanwick Hoard of horse and chariot fittings and the Meyrick Helmet, northern England, (1st century AD)
Lochar Moss Torc and two massive pairs of bronze armlets from Muthill and Strathdon, Scotland, (50–200 AD)
Romano-British (43 AD – 410 AD)
Tombstone of Roman procurator Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus from London, (1st century AD)
Ribchester, Guisborough and Witcham helmets once worn by Roman cavalry in Britain, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
Elaborate gold bracelets and ring found near Rhayader, central Wales, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
Bronze heads of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Claudius, found in London and Suffolk, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
Vindolanda Tablets, important historical documents found near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
Wall-paintings and sculptures from the Roman Villa at Lullingstone, Kent, south east England,1st–4th centuries AD)
Capheaton and Backworth treasures, remnants of two important hoards from northern England, (2nd–3rd centuries AD)
Stony Stratford Hoard of copper headdresses, fibulae and silver votive plaques, central England, (3rd century AD)
Gold jewellery deposited at the site of Newgrange, Ireland, (4th century AD)
Thetford Hoard, late Roman jewellery from eastern England, (4th century AD)
Early Mediaeval (c. 4th century AD – c. 1000 AD)
Part of the Asyut, Domagnano, Artres, Sutri, Bergamo and Belluno Treasures, (4th–7th centuries AD)
Lycurgus Cup, a unique figurative glass cage cup, and the Byzantine Archangel ivory panel, (4th–6th centuries AD)
The Sutton Hoo treasure and Taplow burial, with some of the greatest finds from the early Middle Ages in Europe, England, (6th–7th centuries AD)
Two Viking hoards from Norway known as the Lilleberge Viking Burial and Tromsø Burial and the Cuerdale Hoard from England, (7th–10th centuries AD)
Irish reliquaries such as the Kells Crozier and Bell Shrine of St. Cuileáin, (7th–11th centuries AD)
Early Anglo Saxon Franks Casket, a unique ivory container from northern England, (8th century AD)
A number of important pseudo-penannular brooches including the Londesborough Brooch and the Breadalbane Brooch, Ireland and Scotland, (8th–9th centuries AD)
Carolingian cut gems known as the Lothair Crystal and Saint-Denis Crystal, central Europe, (9th century AD)
Anglo-Saxon Fuller and Strickland Brooches with their complex, niello-inlaid design, England, (9th century AD)
Seax of Beagnoth, iron sword with long Anglo-Saxon Runic inscription, London, England, (10th century AD)
The earlier of the River Witham swords
Mediaeval (c. 1000 AD – c. 1500 AD)
A number of mediaeval ivory panels including the Borradaile, Wernher and John Grandisson Triptychs, (10th–14th centuries AD)
The famous Lewis chessmen found in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, (12th century AD)
Reliquary of St. Eustace from the treasury of Basel Munster, Switzerland, (12th century AD)
The unique Warwick Castle Citole, an early form of guitar, central England, (1280–1330 AD)
Savernake Horn, elephant ivory horn with silver gilt mounts, England and Scotland, (1325–1350 AD)
Asante Jug, mysteriously found at the Asante Court in the late 19th century, England, (1390–1400 AD)
Holy Thorn Reliquary bequeathed by Ferdinand de Rothschild as part of the Waddesdon Bequest, Paris, France, (14th century AD)
Dunstable Swan Jewel, a gold and enamel brooch in the form of a swan, England, (14th century AD)
A silver astrolabe quadrant from Canterbury, southeastern England, (14th century AD)
Magnificent cups made from precious metal such as the Royal Gold Cup and the Lacock Cup, western Europe, (14th–15th centuries AD)
The later of the River Witham swords
Renaissance to Modern (c. 1500 AD – present)
The Armada Service, 26 silver dishes found in Devon, south west England, late 16th to early 17th centuries AD
Early Renaissance Lyte Jewel, presented to Thomas Lyte of Lytes Cary, Somerset by King James I of England, (1610)
Huguenot silver from the Peter Wilding bequest, England, (18th century AD)
Pair of so-called Cleopatra Vases from the Chelsea porcelain factory, London, England, (1763)
Jaspar ware vase known as the Pegasus Vase made by Josiah Wedgwood, England, (1786)
Two of Charles Darwin’s chronometers used on the voyage of HMS Beagle, (1795–1805)
The Hull Grundy Gift of jewellery, Europe and North America, (19th century AD)
Oak clock with mother-of-pearl engraving designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, (1919)
Silver tea-infuser designed by Marianne Brandt from the Bauhaus art school, Germany, (1924)
The Rosetta Vase, earthenware pottery vase designed by the contemporary British artist Grayson Perry, (2011)
The many hoards of treasure include those of Mildenhall, Esquiline, Carthage, First Cyprus, Lampsacus, Water Newton, Hoxne, and Vale of York, (4th–10th centuries AD)
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- Council Dumfries And Galloway
- Parish Mouswald
- Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
- Former District Nithsdale
- Former County Dumfries-shire
An Early Iron Age bronze beaded collar found, in a disjointed state, in a bronze bowl standing on three hewn stones by a labourer cutting turf in Lochar Moss, about 2 miles N of Comlongan Castle (NY 079 689). First exhibited 7 May 1846, in the British Museum. (Lochar Moss extends over a considerable area - the nearest published entry to the N of Comlongan Castle is at NY 035 717).
D Wilson 1863 N Carlisle 1846.
Torc of cast and sheet bronze (Macgregor no. 204), of which slightly less than half is a rectangular-sectioned bar and the remainder is beaded. The bar has paired flanges and bears wave-pattern decoration while the beaded portion has apparently comprised fifteen large beads (two of them now missing) which are traversed by ribs and grooves, and alternate with spacers. The material is in perfect condition and the object is held in the British Museum, London.
Sheet bronze bowl (Macgregor no. 297) with everted rim, gently-swelling shoulder and rounded base. It measures 16.2cm in diameter by 7.5cm in maximum height and was apparently lathe-turned, the rim being strengthened by being turned in on itself. The object is in very good condition.
Both these objects were found a few years before 1851 during peat-cutting about 2 miles N of Comlongan Castle, the torc being found dismantled inside the bowl. They are held in the British Museum, London under accession number BM.53-11.5. The deposit is probably to be attributed to the first or early second centuries AD and the torc is a uniquely sophisticated example of its type.
Crannogs, Celts and Coatbridge
The area surrounding Coatbridge has been inhabited for thousands of years. It was first cultivated during the Neolithic, though nomadic fishermen had visited for millennia previously. The first farmers were later invaded by the Bronze Age Beaker folk, who left behind a fascinating cemetery at Drumpellier.
The archaeological record for ancient Drumpellier does not end there, but actually continues into the Iron Age, when two crannogs were constructed, one at Lochend Loch, and one at Bishop Loch.
What is a crannog? A crannog is an artificial island, built out of robust timbers screwed into the bed of the loch. These long posts form a circle, and function like stilts to support a walled wooden dwelling above the water, accessed either by a bridge or by coracles and dugout canoes.
The reconstructed crannog at Loch Tay.
Crannogs were usually covered with a cone-shaped thatched roof to keep the rain out. People lived and worked in them, sometimes using them as sheds for livestock. It was even possible to light fires for cooking or metalwork inside crannogs, using a lining of stones or clay to protect the wooden floor.
The entrance to the Loch Tay crannog.
To protect the crannog-dwellers from the weather, the thatch had no smoke holes, but the roof was high enough for the smoke to rise above the people’s heads. This smoke would prevent insects from pestering the inhabitants, and could also be used for smoking fish hung overhead. Over time, crannogs would break down and fall into the loch. Silt would collect around the fallen timbers, eventually turning into an island, where a house could be built.
Crannogs are unique to Scotland and Ireland, with none in England and only one in Wales. Most of the early examples go back to the Bronze Age, and some even earlier, but the craze for crannogs peaked in the Iron Age, with hundreds built all over the country. The reason for their construction is not certain, but many crannogs were used for centuries.
Once islands had formed, thatched roundhouses like these could be built on them.
Crannogs followed the late Bronze Age trend of migration from defensible high ground into the wetter, more fertile low-lying areas, which could be farmed more effectively with iron tools.
The first of the two local crannogs was discovered in 1898. It was found to contain some rough pottery, a metalworker’s crucible, and an iron axe head, probably a woodworking tool rather than a battle axe. Very little is known about this crannog, as the investigators’ records are patchy. The site’s exact position is unknown, and hidden under the water. The date of this crannog is equally hazy, though one authority puts it around 250 B.C. However, the fact that it is so near the other crannog allows the possibility that the two were built by different generations of the same tribe.
The crannog at Lochend seems to be older, but better preserved, with more artifacts. It was stumbled on in 1931 when efforts to increase the loch’s depth left the crannog temporarily exposed. The timbers were well preserved in the surrounding peat mud, and showed that two crannog floors, one after the other, had been built on the same spot, the second supported by timbers screwed into the ruins of the first. The floors were strengthened by clay and stones, and the roof, like most crannogs, was thatched. This crannog was very substantial, even including stone paving on the floor at one point.
Three bone pins from the Lochend crannog. Image by kind permission of National Museums Scotland.
The timbers showed that this crannog had been burned multiple times. This burning could have been deliberate, with the dwellers firing the crannog when it began to crumble so that the old timbers would fall into the loch, and they could build a sound new structure above. The presence of human bones may suggest that they were taken by surprise, either by accident or by malice. The crannog also contained pottery, the bones of oxen, large quern stones used for grinding grain by hand, pieces of crucibles for metalwork, and part of a jet bracelet. It is thought that this crannog was in use from 800 B.C. to 400 B.C.
Jet bracelet fragments from the Lochend crannog. Jet jewellery was worn in the late Bronze Age, but went out of fashion, re-appearing later in the Iron Age. Image by kind permission of National Museums Scotland.
Why build crannogs?
So why were such strange dwellings built? There was no shortage of land to build houses on, and the process of building a crannog was much more laborious than building a simple roundhouse on dry land. Crannogs had some defensive properties, but they were not ideal fortresses. They were small and vulnerable to fire, inferior to the hill forts chieftains had long depended on. So why build crannogs?
The answer may be hinted at in the oldest legends of Britain and Ireland. Early Celtic narratives conventionally use physical barriers to represent social boundaries. In the medieval Welsh tale How Culhwch won Olwen, there is a series of formulaic meetings between heroes and gatekeepers. Each time, the gatekeeper stands guard over a fort where a king is feasting with his men. The hero seeks entry, and the gatekeeper refuses, unless the hero can say that he has mastered a craft – no-one else is allowed to meet the king.
The Grianan of Aileach was the stronghold of the kings of Aileach in Ireland.
The same formula appears in the Irish text The Second Battle of Moytura, derived from 9 th century material. The text has the god Lugh listing his skills to the king’s gatekeeper, but each time he is refused entry, as the king already has someone with that skill. Lugh eventually asks if they have anyone who has mastered all of the crafts that he has, and the gatekeeper has to admit defeat. Because of this, Lugh was given the name Ildánach, ‘skilled in many arts.’
Detail on one of the drinking flagons from Basse Yutz, France. Such a drinking vessel would have been used at feasts by the very highest strata of Celtic society.
In the same way, the water around a crannog could represent an elitist barrier, marking out a private lodge where members of the warrior elite could host guests of similar standing. Status symbolism would also justify the extra labour required to build a crannog.
There are, however, difficulties with this theory. Ox bones found in crannogs are not inconsistent with the image of a chief’s feast hall fossilised dung, however, is more of a problem, for historians as well as potential feasters. Why would a chief want to invite noble guests to a house full of cow pats? The evidence of quern stones and other everyday tools also goes against the elitist theory, arguing that these were spaces for everyday agricultural work rather than high status feasting. The presence of hazelnut shells is also troublesome for the theory, as these were far from a staple of the aristocratic diet.
Ancient hazelnut shells
Another theory has crannogs as sites of religious importance. Celts, like many contemporary peoples, regarded water with religious reverence, and perhaps fear. Rivers were personified as gods and goddesses who had to be appeased with sacrifices. Bogs were major sites of ritual activity and were regarded as passages to the other world, so it would make sense for priests (or druids) to have dwellings connected to the boggy Scottish lochs.
The Lochar Moss Torc was sacrificed to a peat bog on the Solway Firth. The wave-like decoration suggests sacred water.
However, this theory has problems of its own. Ancient people would sacrifice almost anything to bogs – swords, spears, cauldrons, jewellery, musical instruments, men, women, entire ships in Scandinavia, and the list goes on. If crannogs were related to the bog cult, then why do bogs connected to crannog sites not yield more treasure and bog bodies?
A reconstruction of the Deskford carnyx, sacrificed to a bog in Morayshire. The carnyx was a war horn with fascinating properties as an instrument. The Deskford carnyx had a hinged wooden tongue which actually modulated the sound. The boar was a common Celtic symbol for a warrior.
The famous Torrs pony cap from Kirkcudbrightshire was deposited in a peat bog. The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland.
Cattle and Treasure
Perhaps the most convincing theory has crannogs as the houses of wealthy farmers and craftsmen. These people would have occupied a position midway between the aristocracy in the hillforts, and the simple peasantry living in roundhouses. Considering the long and storied history of cattle raiding in Scotland and Ireland, the link between crannogs and cattle makes a lot of sense if we think of them as the houses of farmers. When raiders were about, there could be no safer place for cattle than a crannog.
In the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, the hero Cuchulain single-handedly defends Ulster against a massive cattle raid. Many other early Irish texts revolve around cattle raids.
The association of crannogs with crafting, and particularly metalworking tools, is also of interest in the wider Celtic context. It was the Proto-Celtic Hallstatt Culture that ushered in the western Iron Age, and Celtic peoples ranging from Ireland to the Carpathians fostered a unique tradition of excellence in art and metalworking. The Roman military based their own equipment on that of the Gauls, and Romans prized weapons from the Celtic kingdom of Noricum for their superior quality of iron.
The hilt of a Celtic sword from France. Many Celtic swords have human shaped hilts like this one. It could represent a war god, such as Toutatis, or perhaps the spirit of the sword. In heroic literature, swords are often named, and many ancient burials contain swords that have been ‘killed’ by bending them beyond repair, and buried with the owner.
Jewellery was also very important in Celtic culture. Strabo wrote this of the Gauls: ‘To the frankness and high-spiritedness of their temperament must be added the traits of childish boastfulness and love of decoration. They wear ornaments of gold, torcs on their necks, and bracelets on their arms and wrists, while people of high rank wear dyed garments besprinkled with gold’ (Strabo, Geography).
The Snettisham great torc was a royal treasure of the Iceni tribe, which would later fight under Boudicca.
Strabo assumed that the Gauls were wearing jewellery for frivolous reasons, but he was looking at them from an outsider’s perspective. From the Gauls’ point of view, jewellery had great significance. In the Celtic honour system, items such as torcs and arm rings had a similar importance to wedding rings, but rather than signifying a marriage bond, they represented the relationship between a lord and his followers.
A drawing of a bronze arm ring from Morayshire, c. 100-200 B.C. The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland.
Arm rings of this style were unique to ancient Scotland. The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland.
A lord was expected to provide food and shelter for his followers, and to reward them with gifts, including jewellery, swords, armour and horses. In return, the followers were obliged to fight for their lord, and they were honour-bound never to leave the battlefield before he did (both Caesar and Tacitus report this custom among Gauls and Germanics respectively). Gift giving and hospitality were the foundation for what Tacitus called the comitatus, a warrior band under a charismatic leader. Such warbands could make or break a tribe, and they commanded great power and reputation.
Mirrors are a common item in Celtic burials of high status women. However, Celtic men were similarly image-conscious, both physically and in terms of reputation. The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland.
This was by no means exclusively a Celtic custom. The comitatus was the norm among barbarian nations of the Iron Age, likely originating with the Indo-European nomads of the Bronze Age. Aspects of comitatus culture could be found even in Rome in the form of patronage, which established mutual obligations between the patronus and clientus, such as a master and a servant. The custom of hospitality and gift-giving in the context of lords and heroes is also prominent in later Germanic sources, such as Beowulf and the Sigurd cycle. Indeed, the most iconic monster of Germanic legend is the dragon, a creature which greedily hoards gold, in contrast to the generous hero. Smiths are also important characters in Germanic lore, often appearing in the form of elves and dwarves.
The Ramsund carving in Sweden tells the story of how Sigurd slew the dragon Fafnir, as well as his wicked foster-father, Regin the Smith (left). His horse Grani carried away the treasure.
A panel from the Franks Casket, made in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. The blacksmith on the left is Weland the Smith, a sinister character who was crippled and forced to make treasures for his enemies. The bodies under his anvil belong to his captor’s young sons, killed by the vengeful smith. Curiously, Weland’s forge (and prison) was on an island. Could this be an equivalent of a crannog?
The importance of jewellery and weapons for the warrior class may well explain the common trope of heroes, such as Sigurd, Cuchulain and Kullervo, being brought up by smiths. This would certainly boost the status of crannogs, and begs the question – were any heroes brought up at Lanarkshire’s crannogs?
Drawings taken from J. Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1903. (1993 reprint by the Pinkfoot Press).
Lochar Moss Torc - History
Metal detecting holidays in England
with the Worlds most successful metal detecting club
Twinned with Midwest Historical Research Society USA
Torc - A Celtic necklace made of gold, bronze or iron
The gold was exceptionally pure, at above 90%. The necklace torcs had clasps of a type unknown to Celtic craftsmen. The decoration of gold globules ('granulation') and gold wire ('filigree') had been fixed with an invisible bond by a technique known as 'diffusion soldering'. And whereas most torcs were rigid, these were thick but flexible chains of interwoven rings.
Who made the Winchester torcs? - Torcs were symbols of wealth, power and courage across barbarian Europe. The type and decoration of the objects are certainly Celtic. The brooches are of a 'safety-pin' form commonly found in pairs, because they were used to attach the cloaks worn by Iron Age people.
But the techniques of manufacture are Roman. Was the master-craftsman who made them an immigrant in service to a great British lord? Or were the treasures a diplomatic gift, deliberately crafted in Celtic style to appeal to 'barbarian' taste, perhaps even a present from Caesar to a client-king?
Iron Age, about 75 BC
Found at Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk, England
The most famous object from Iron Age Britain
This torc was made with great skill and tremendous care in the first half of the first century BC. It is one of the most elaborate golden objects made in the ancient world. Not even Greek, Roman or Chinese gold workers living 2000 years ago made objects of this complexity.
The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread was 1.9 mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make 8 separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each other to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes.
The torc was found when the field at Ken Hill, Snettisham was ploughed in 1950. Other hoards were found in the same field in 1948 and 1990. The torc was buried tied together with a complete bracelet by another torc. A coin found caught in the ropes of the Great Torc suggests the hoard was buried around 75 BC.
Diameter: 20 cm
Weight: 1080 g
Iron Age, around 75 BC
From Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk., England
A silver torc from the Snettisham Treasure
This is one of two silver torcs buried with ten gold ones in a small pit. After they had been covered with dirt, another seven torcs were carefully packed on top. Hoard L was just one of at least eleven clusters of gold, silver and bronze torcs buried at Snettisham. They were buried in the countryside, away from farms and villages. There is no evidence that a temple existed at Snettisham.
The torc was made in the same way as many of those made of gold found at Snettisham. Thin threads of silver were twisted together to make ropes, and the hollow terminals (ends) then added.
The metal torcs made in this way were heavy and needed a large quantity of valuable metal to make them. Imagine wearing the weight of two bags of sugar around your neck in gold or silver!
Diameter: 19.5 cm
Weight: 920 g
Iron Age, around 75 BC
From Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk., England
This torc had been made some years before it was buried at Snettisham. It appears to have been worn for a long time it had been broken at least once and was repaired with a sheet of gold and gold ropes and rings. The main part of the torc is made from four ropes, each made from 8 strains of gold wire twisted around each other. The hollow ends are elaborately decorated with La Tène style patterns.
This torc was placed in a small hole in the ground with 20 other torcs. First 10 gold torcs, including this one, and two silver torcs were placed in the ground along with two bronze bracelets. Then soil was thrown in the hole before another 7 torcs were carefully placed on top. Five of these torcs were made of silver and two from bronze. Did each torc belong to a different person? Did the older or the more important people wear gold rather than silver or bronze torcs? We will never be able to answer these questions with any certainty.
Diameter: 21 cm
Weight: 800 g
Iron Age, around 75 BC
From Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk, England
This torc is part of hoard G found at Snettisham, which was buried in a small pit cut into the rock. It contained 3 torcs made of electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver), 7 silver torcs and 10 bronze torcs.
Different types of torcs were made and worn by the people who buried the treasure at Snettisham. Many, though not all, were made from twisted ropes of metal. This massive torc is a more simple type of the twisted rope torcs. It is made from four different bars of electrum, which have been slightly twisted around each other. The ends of the bars were then bent around each other to make the loop shaped terminals
From Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk, England
These are the crown jewels of Norfolk of over 2000 years ago. They are gold and silver torcs that were worn around the neck to display the wearer's importance.
Torcs were first found at Snettisham in 1948 and 1950, and experts thought no more were buried there. Then in 1990, metal detectorist Charles Hodder found 9 kilograms of gold and silver fragments and ingots at the site. He reported his finds and helped archaeologists excavate the field. They unearthed seventy-five complete torcs, carefully buried in small pits.
But there are stories that another hoard was found at Snettisham. Known as 'the Bowl hoard', it is thought to consist of a silver bowl containing large numbers of Iron Age coins. It was illegally removed from the site and allegedly smuggled out of Britain and sold. Little more is known - a vital piece of our history has probably been lost forever.
Iron Age, around 75 BC
Found near Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Five of these gold torcs were found during construction work near Ipswich in 1968. The sixth was found nearby about a year later. They are one of two of the most famous collections of Iron Age gold torcs in The British Museum. The other, much larger, was found at Snettisham in Norfolk.
Torcs are ornaments worn around the neck. A person would have had to have had a neck smaller than 18.7 cm in circumference to wear these examples.
Scientific analysis by the Department of Scientific Research at The British Museum shows that the torcs are made from an alloy (mixture) of 90% gold and 10% silver. This is an important discovery as it helps archaeologists to estimate more accurately when they were made. Gold objects made from between 150 and 75 BC have a high percentage of gold. Gold objects made after 75 BC have more and more silver mixed with the metal. The scientific results suggest this set of torcs were made around 75 BC. But highly valuable objects like these might have been worn for many years before they were buried.
Each torc was made by twisting two rods of gold around each other. The ends, the 'terminals', were each cast on to the twisted rods using the lost wax technique. Each terminal is hollow, the La Tène-style decoration cut into the clay mould so that it stands up from the surface of the ends, which were then polished. Each terminal, of all the torcs, has a slightly different pattern from its pair.
Late Bronze Age, about 1150-800 BC
Found near Milton Keynes, England
The hoard comprises two gold torcs, three bracelets and a tiny fragment of bronze rod or wire found within an undecorated pottery bowl. It was found by two metal-detectorists, whose diligence in reporting the find to local archaeologists ensured that the information on the context of the find is very good. As a result we have the first certain association between a gold hoard and pottery for the British Middle to Late Bronze Age (about 1500-800 BC).
Bronze Age gold metalwork is usually found in isolation, but the associated pottery vessel helps confirm, and may eventually refine, the dating of this hoard. The find provides an invaluable link between gold types and the broader social and economic picture for Bronze Age Britain.
Weighing in at over two kilos, this is one of the biggest concentrations of Bronze Age gold known from Britain and seems to flaunt wealth. The two torcs are penannular (open) neck-rings of elliptical cross-section. One torc is decorated with incised lines, except for a plain strip along the rear face, and with more complex groove decoration near the terminals. The other is only decorated near the terminals, with a band of close-set grooves. Two of the bracelets are very chunky 'C'-shaped rings of elliptical cross-section. The third has an octagonal cross-section.
Diameter: 14.59 cm (larger torc: external)
Weight: 2.02 kg (total)
Diameter: 21 cm (pottery bowl)
Iron Age, AD 50-200
From Lochar Moss, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
A distinctive Scottish type of torc
This type of torc or neck ring is very different to those found at Snettisham. This is a beaded angular torc made from brass. It was found inside a bronze bowl during peat-cutting. One half of the torc is a solid, heavy bar cast in one piece. A La Tène-style scroll pattern has been cut out from another sheet of brass and attached to the bar with rivets. The other half of the torc is made very differently, with hollow brass beads threaded onto a bronze or iron wire. Today only thirteen beads survive, but originally the torc had another one or two beads. The collar could be worn with either the decorated plaque or the beaded section showing at the front.
The torc was made sometime between AD 50 and 200 and was found inside a bronze bowl buried in a bag. At this time, the Romans had conquered southern Britain and at different times occupied southern Scotland. These types of torcs have been found only in northern England and Scotland. This shows that they are a type of very distinctive costume, only used in this part of Roman and Free Britain.
Meeting report: The origins, Archaeology, History and Wildlife of the Lochar Moss
A large audience enjoyed the first talk of 2014, given to Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society. The speaker was Peter Norman, the Biodiversity Officer for Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council. His subject was The origins, archaeology, history and wildlife of the Lochar Moss, sometimes referred to as 'The Great Moss'.
Peter described the huge extent of the original Lochar Moss and its impact on the development of Dumfries and its environs throughout the centuries.
Utilising excellent diagrams and photographs, the speaker explained how peat mosses are formed and he described the detailed development and archaeology of the moss, demonstrating how the two were closely inter-related. Particular attention was paid to artefacts which are available to view in Dumfries Museum. Peter showed how the moss might well have been utilised for ritual deposits using evidence, such as the Lochar torque, which is a find of world importance. He suggested that the discovery of 'bog-bodies' might indicate that human sacrifices once took place.
The earliest written evidence is from a warrant dated 1524 which concerned a dispute over the rights to extract peat. Attention was then drawn to the commercial development of the moss, commencing with work carried out by the Duke of Queensberry to drain parts of it in the mid 1750s. Photographs and plans were used to show these works and their resultant effects today.
Local folk lore is associated with the moss. In September 1837 The Royal Highland Agricultural Society held their annual show in Dumfries. They paid £250 to bring an enormous steam plough to the event. For two days the demonstration was successful, but on the third day a combination of heavy rain and the attendance of over 2,000 visitors meant that the plough failed to operate. That the plough is still buried in the moss is a tale that persists: but Peter was able to inform the meeting that the engine was salvaged and transported to Egypt. Parts of the plough may well still lie in the moss despite the fact that several attempts to locate them have proved abortive.
Commercial peat extraction and forestry have had an effect on the wildlife and ecology of the moss. Some species recorded in the 1850s are no longer present, but the picture is not a totally gloomy one. The schemes to rescue parts of the moss, to clear commercial forestry and to manage the peat moss have proved successful. It is hoped that these schemes can be extended. Several extremely rare plants are present, notably Baltic Bog Moss. Bog rosemary is prevalent. The large heath butterfly is still on Longbridgemuir land, Ruthwell. Some of the key plants essential for peat formation, such as Sphagnum cuspidatum, are thriving.
Why is this moss so important? Wild life, ecological and archaeological issues may be obvious, but what may not be appreciated is that the equivalent of all the carbon emissions Dumfries produces in a year are stored in the moss. Its absence would cause carbon to be released into the atmosphere, a factor which would significantly add to our global warming problems.
The talk ended on the optimistic note that it was still possible to save parts of the moss and that over a period of many years they could be re-instated to their former glory.
Economics and Currency [ edit | edit source ]
Lochar runs on a capitalist free market economy, with a strong financial sector focussed on managing both internal and external financial resources, and an economy based around gathering resources from their various overseas provinces and exporting them to other nations, particularly Delenthor and Scarfellan but well beyond as well.
Imports and Exports [ edit | edit source ]
The major Locharni imports focus on necessities which are difficult to produce in Lochar - such as potatoes, spices, apples and sugar - and extravagent luxuries such as wine and fine silks.
The three largest exports of Lochar are financial services, rare minerals mined in the underground cities, and vodka. They also export rare metals, such as mithril, and marine resources such as fish, seafood and coral, which the coastal cities have in abundance.
Currency [ edit | edit source ]
With respect to currency, Lochar recognises two national systems of currency – the Delenthor system, and a stronger local currency. The Locharni currency consists of ten basic units, detailed in the table overleaf with their design and approximate conversion rates.
Generally, Locharni coins have a hole in the middle for threading on strings (called ‘wallets’) which can be used to pay in bulk. The exceptions to this are the Korr, Arra, and Arraufein, which are decorated with the portraits of heads of state. Putting holes through these coins is considered a sign of disrespect.