The Story of the Project

In the book, Brian describes in detail how he made the 20ct gold Ribbon Torc using the methods of the Iron Age goldsmiths. The book is a detailed technical description accompanied by many coloured photos and black & white illustrations. It is aimed at anyone interested in Metalsmithing or in Iron and Bronze Age metalwork.

The DVD which accompanies the book shows clearly the method of making a Ribbon Torc. The method is subtle and complex and is difficult to visualize from descriptions alone.

Techniques coverd in detail include:

Casting the gold ingot,

Forging the ingot into a square bar,

Forging the terminals and end wires,

Forging the ribbon,

Anticlastic Raising,

Anticlastic Raising related to the Ribbon Torc,

Forming the coil,


Regularising and planishing.

The discovery was made by the coming together of two totally separate explorations being carried out by Michael Good in Maine in the US and Brian Clarke in Ireland. When they met at an International Craft Conference, in Birmingham UK in July 2000, they realised that they had both been working on finding a solution to the mystery of the Torc's twisted form.

They had been approaching the problem from opposing directions and on putting their knowledge and experience together they have come up with the solution. Brian then continued the investigation and rediscovered exactly how the Bronze or Iron age people would have made Ribbon Torcs using only the natural materials available to them at the time. This is a discovery of major significance. It means that now they can be made again for the first time in over 2000 years.With the help of Mary Cahill, Assistant Keeper of Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, the project has gained international standing.

Brian Clarke Artist in Metal

Brian Clarke studied metalwork in the National College of Art, Dublin and in the Ecole des Arts Appliques, Paris 1965-69. He has worked as an independent designer silversmith, working on many commissions and personal pieces since then. He was, for many years, a visiting lecturer at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.In 1993 he started the Irish School Of Metalsmithing where he taught silversmithing and related techniques to students from all over the world. Brian’s interest in the various techniques of metalsmithing, led to a keen interest in the beautiful artifacts in Gold in the National Museum of Ireland, in Kildare Street, Dublin. Looking at these items with the eye of a metalsmith, it was possible to make a very educated guess as to how some of the items were made.

Metalsmithing (Goldsmithing), techniques are the same now as they were in antiquity, as the nature of metal has not changed. We may have to guess at precisely what kind of tools ancient goldsmiths were using, but the techniques are still the same. Casting, forging, chasing, fusing, soldering etc.

Brian was fascinated by the Ribbon Torcs, because as a metalsmith he knew that they are were not just twisted strips of gold, as had previously been assumed, so he set about trying to figure out how they were made in antiquity. Brian’s discovery of how the Ribbon Torcs were made is the result of many years of research and experimentation. It is a fascinating story and is a significant addition to the knowelege of the techniques of the time.

Brian Clarke can be contacted at the email address: