How did they do that? Bronze Age jewellery – a bulla and a torc!

One of the fascinating aspects of the past is pondering on how things were made without the aid of modern technology. This is particularly apparent if you are like me and as my mother commented, ‘have only hands for eating with’!

Imagine then the skill needed to make objects of gold jewellery like the Inch bulla and the Corrard torc on display in the Ulster Museum. Both these objects have featured on a recent video made for the gallery to explore their manufacture and use. The miniature size of the bulla (3cm in length), which was probably worn around the neck like a locket, has many tiny strands of gold wire. These are difficult to count with the naked eye and seemingly impossible to make without the aid of a Bronze Age magnifying glass?

Image: Inch Bulla
Inch Bulla

A contrast in size is the torc, where a visit to metalsmith Brian Clarke from Wicklow, revealed some secrets of the trade.  Brian has been experimenting on reproducing the technique of preparing a metal bar and twisting it, giving the torc its fusilli pasta-like appearance!

Image: Corrard Torc
Corrard Torc

The torc would have originally have formed a hoop, perhaps worn around the neck or waist before being twisted like a coiled spring prior to burial. Sounds confusing? Have a look at the Bronze Age Gold Jewellery video. below.