Torrs and its affinities
This period of innovation and experimentation culminated by the third century in the mature phase of insular Celtic art, and the production of a number of high-status pieces of parade armour and related ceremonial or symbolic metal-work. Foremost in this group are the Torrs pony-cap and horns, the Witham shield and the Wandsworth circular shield boss, all of which display a combination of repoussé relief ornament and engraved, two-dimensional designs, and which have generally been regarded since Piggott and Atkinson's study (Atkinson and Piggott, 1955) as products of an integrated eastern English tradition or 'school' of prestige metal-work. The assumption that south-west Scotland was an unlikely place of manufacture for the Torrs ensemble is certainly open to challenge, and its stylistic affinities with Northern Irish material allows the possibility of an Irish-Scottish axis instead (Harding, 2002). Given that major prestige products often enjoyed a long life, we might question whether the engraved and repoussé styles were necessarily both part of the original design, or whether the engraved elements were later additions (in the case of Witham and Wandsworth it cannot have been vice versa). In view of the broad co-existence of Sword Style engraving and Plastic Style in Continental Europe, however, there seems no reason to deny their contemporary use in Britain. But we may speculate whether they were the product of the same craftsmen, and whether any special significance attached to these distinctive forms of artistic symbolism.
The function of the Torrs cap and horns (Figure 7.1) has still not been resolved beyond dispute. They were apparently already associated by 1829, when they came into the possession of Sir Walter Scott, though the attachment of the horns in their present position is apparently modern. One argument for regarding horns and cap as a set is that the latter have small repairs bearing engraved ornament in the general style of the former, though detailed examination has yet to show that the engraving was by
Plate 1 Later Bronze Âge ceremonial 'hats'. L to R, Avanton (Musée des Antiquités Nationales, Paris); Schif&rstadt (Historisches Museum der Pfelz, Speyer); Etzelsdorf-Buch (Germanisches National-muséum Nürnberg); uncertain, probably S. Germany (Museum für Vor und Frühgeschichte, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin). Copyright Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer (Jahr). Photo: Peter Haag-Kirchner.
Plate 2b Open-work gold of Schwarzenbach bowl. Photo copyright Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbersitz, Berlin.
Plate 3 The Klein Aspergie grave-group. Photo: Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart; P. Frankenstein, H. Zwictascli.
Plaie 5a The Rodenbach arm-ring. Copyright Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer (Jahr), Photo: Kurt DiehL
Plate 5b The Waldalgesheim tore and arm-rings. Photo copyright Landschaftsverband Rheinland/ Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn.
Plate 7a The Amfreville helmet. Museé des Antiquités Nationales. Photo: RMN, Paris, copyright Jean Schormans.
Plate 8a The Broighter tote Photo copyright National Museum of Iceland, Dublin, reproduced by permission.
Plait 15b The Tata' brooch: back view. Photo copyright National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, reproduced by permission.
Plate 16b The Monymusk reliquary. Photo copyright the Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland.
the same hand. Piggott and Atkinson rightly argued that the cap was too small as a chamfrein, though the circular holes could have served for the ears rather than the eyes of a pony. Jope's (1983) suggestion that it may have been used for ceremonial charades need not be dismissed. The horns, nevertheless, may not have been part of the ensemble. The fact that their ornament is relatively on opposite sides indicates their use as a pair, but pace Atkinson and Piggott, drinking-horn terminals still seems the likeliest context for their use.
The detailed design of cap and horns has been reviewed elsewhere (Harding, 2002). A key element of the cap is its fold-over symmetry about an axis from front to back. The principal motifs of the repoussé design are gamma-loops front and back, linked by somewhat angular arches over the ear openings. From these extend peltate elements terminating in domed roundels that, in the case of the front section, simulate cartoonlike birds' heads. It is these terminals especially that invite comparison with the Loughnashade trumpet from Co. Antrim. Bird's heads also presumably formed the cast terminals of both horns, though now missing from Horn A. Horn A has also been repaired in antiquity in a style that is simpler in technique and design than the originals. Essentially the engraving of both horns comprises tendril designs emanating from a sub-circular whorl, in which, as Duval remarked (1977, 145) a central line, unusual in La Tène art, nevertheless enhances the illusion of rotary motion. Among filler elements peltae-within-peltae and hair-spring spirals evoke parallels both with the Witham-Wandsworth tradition and the Irish Scabbard Style. 'Batwing' finials also echo elements in the design of the Witham scabbard.
For Atkinson and Piggott, Torrs, together with Newnham Croft, represented their 'early' school of Waldalgesheim-derived insular art. Newnham Croft was a contracted inhumation found in 1903 that has been wrongly interpreted as a possible chariot-burial (Stead, 1965, 9; 1995, 83). Among its associated grave-goods the solid bronze arm-ring (Figure 4.11, 2) is distinguished by its ingenious lapped-over closure-mechanism, a feature that is not easily paralleled in Britain or Continental Europe. Its surface, as we have seen, shows the much-worn traces of a low-relief tendril design, twisting its course around the ring in a continuous series of diagonal panels, reminiscent of the diagonal bias of Hungarian sword-ornament. Among the elements for which an ultimate Waldalgesheim or Vegetal Style ancestry might be invoked are the curved triangles or vortex motifs that link the dividing arms of the tendril design. Similarities with Torrs include the use of peltae or flattened peltae, from which branches turn into spiral terminals, here in engraved technique in contrast to the repoussé version at Torrs. More controversial is the use of background hatching at Newnham Croft, not detected in Fox's earlier drawing. Neither squared hatching of the later Mirror-Style variety nor quite the alternating, diagonal kind exemplified at Cerrig-y-Drudion, it certainly does not require a late date or any particular regional context.
With the bracelet were two penannular brooches, one fragmentary, and a truly remarkable brooch (Figure 6.10, 4), which displays all the inventive ingenuity of insular brooch-makers in the middle Iron Age. Jope (2000, 45—7) listed a range of Continental parallels among disc-bow brooches of the transitional period from La Tène 1c to early La Tène 2. The bow is cast as a four-spoked, open-work wheel, at the hub of which and at the cardinal points are mounted small, white (coral?) bun-shaped studs, an unusual device that may be compared with the wheel-headed pin from Danes
Graves (Stead, 1965, Fig. 32, 3). The bun-shaped studs are repeated like a pair of eyes on a face-mask that forms the upturned foot of the brooch. Apart from the chevron with hatched background of the spring, and the simple geometric design on the spindle-caps at each end of the spring, the ornament is mainly on the underneath of the brooch, a curious foible on the part of insular brooch-makers, since it cannot possibly have been visible in use. Circlets and arcs predominate in a style reminiscent of early La Tène scabbard ornament. Distinctively insular and allied to brooches of the middle Iron Age is the use of a hinge-mechanism, even though disguised as a spring. As an indicator of dating, and noting that the foot was cast in one with the bow, Jope acknowledged that the small moulding at the point where foot and bow meet was reminiscent of the sleeve of a La Tène 2 brooch, and was compelled in consequence to offer a dating for the brooch in the early second rather than late third centuries. To some scholars, even this might seem too early to satisfy the single-piece casting of foot and bow, on which the sleeve could well be regarded as skeuomorphic rather than incipient, in effect, making it a late La Tène form. Hawkes (Hull and Hawkes, 1987, l47ff), however, attempted to dispel the belief that a foot cast in one with the bow was necessarily indicative of late La Tène, particularly in view of the inventive originality of insular brooch-makers of the middle Iron Age. A later dating might nevertheless more easily accommodate the form of the penannular brooches in the assemblage. In view of the very worn condition of its ornament, the arm-ring could easily have been a century or more old when finally deposited in the grave, and its associations therefore do not rule out a date for its manufacture in the early third century at latest.