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Bronze Age gold torc goes on display

A 4,000 year-old gold torc, found by detectorist Billy Vaughan, is to go on display in Cumbria.

Finding the torc

Billy found the torc five inches below the surface in a field in Copeland, Cumbria in late 2019. Speaking at the time, Billy described the find:

Billy with the torc

I’d only been detecting six months and I was out by myself on a field I must have been in dozens of times before, spending seven or eight hours going through it.

This time I got a strong signal so I dug down five inches and saw it. My first reaction was it was a piece of climbing equipment, or perhaps coupling from a tractor. I never thought it could be gold.

I carried on detecting for an hour and a half before I called my friend and sent him a picture of it. He said I must come around with it right away so I hopped in my car and drove to his house with it.

He was very excited about the find and told me to take it to a jeweller’s, who confirmed it was 11oz of 22 carat gold. He said it had a value in gold of £11,000, but it was worth a lot more because of its age and what it was.

I was stunned and gobsmacked. I still can’t believe it.


The torc was recorded at the PAS as LANCUM-C6B5FC

PAS record: LANCUM-C6B5FC. Photo: PAS CC By Sa2.0

The PAS record says the torc’s form is similar to those of the Tullydonnell hoard from County Donegal. This is dated to 1200 – 800 BC. The punched decoration is also known from another Irish example.


The torc has been jointly acquired by both The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven and Tullie in Carlisle, purchased with support from Art Fund, Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Cumberland Council and the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. The Beacon Museum will showcase the find from November 18 to June 2024 in its Prehistoric and Bronze Age section. It will then move to the Tullie.

Councillor Anne Quilter, Cumberland Council’s Executive Member for Vibrant and Healthy Places said “This joint acquisition provides more opportunities for our communities to see this amazing find and discover more about their local heritage

Beacon Museum’s Customer and Visitor Experience Manager, Heather Holmes said “The nature of the item, and its role as a showpiece object, will highlight the importance of the museum as a venue for sharing heritage. It’s a must-see exhibit

Prof Michael Lewis, Head of the PAS said “It is wonderful news that The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, has been able to acquire this important Late Bronze Age gold arm ring for local people to see and enjoy. The British Museum is proud of its role in managing the Portable Antiquities Scheme in England, through which this object was reported Treasure via the local Finds Liaison Officer.

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