Neck Ring

Date: 400–300 BC

Geography: Made in southern Germany or Switzerland

Culture: Celtic

Medium: Copper alloy with remains of glass paste inlays

Dimensions: Overall: 5 15/16 x 5 7/8 x 3/4 in., 0.377lb. (15.1 x 14.9 x 1.9 cm, 171g)

Classification: Metalwork-Copper alloy

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.194.1919


This torque, or neck ring, is an elegant example of one of the most important forms of jewelry for the ancient Celts. The lower half of the ring has been formed into a series of large beads that were once inset with red enamel. Though now somewhat corroded, the piece nonetheless gives an idea of how Celtic artisans elaborated upon the basic ring-shaped form. Worn by both men and women, a torque was often seen as a symbol of divinity or high rank in addition to serving talismanic purposes. Ancient writers noted that the Celtic queen Boadicea, who fought the Romans in eastern Britain, wore a golden neck ring in battle. Celtic artists often depicted deities wearing or holding torques, and torques were also included among votive treasures placed at sanctuaries.