1m pound golden hoard rewrites history of ancient Scotland

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An enthusiast with a metal detector has unearthed a £1 million hoard of Iron Age gold necklaces from a field near Stirling in a discovery that is set to revolutionise the way that historians view some of Scotland’s ancient inhabitants.

According to experts at the National Museums of Scotland (NMS), the four beautifully worked “torcs” represent the most significant find of Iron Age metalwork in the country. One of the Stirling necklaces is a ribbon torc made from twisted Irish or Scottish sheet gold. Another is encrusted with circles of gold wire and beads of gold that look like pearls.

In financial terms, the anonymous finder has struck gold in every sense. A single, similar item — the Newark torc — was sold for £350,000 in 2006, suggesting that treasure trove of well in excess of £1 million will soon be paid by the Crown.

For archaeologists, monetary matters pale against the historical significance of the torcs, which probably date from between the 1st and 3rd centuries BC. Intriguingly, the Stirling find appears to reveal links between local tribes — traditionally seen as isolated — and other Iron Age people in Europe. Goldwork of roughly equivalent design has been discovered near Toulouse, in the South of France, a connection suggesting that both ideas and technology travelled over surprisingly large distances.

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