A torc, also spelled torq or torque, is a rigid piece of personal adornment made from twisted metal. It can be worn as an arm ring, a circular neck ring, or a necklace that is open-ended at the front. Smaller torcs worn around the wrist are called bracelets instead. Torcs are a type of Scythian, Thracian and Celtic jewellery, produced in the European Iron Age, from around the 8th century BC to the 3rd century AD.
It also has predecessors in gold necklaces of the European Bronze Age, which are sometimes also called "torcs", e.g. the three 12th-11th century BC specimens found at Tiers Cross, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
One of the earliest known depictions of a torc can be found on the Warrior of Hirschlanden (6th century BC).
It was said by some authors that the torc was an ornament for women until the 4th century BC, when it became an attribute of warriors. An example of a torc owned by a woman is the gold torc from the La Tene period chariot burial of a princess, found in Waldalgesheim, Germany, and another found in a woman's grave at Reinheim. Another La Tene example was found as part of a hoard buried near Erstfeld. The famous heavy silver "bull torc" found in Trichtingen, Germany, dates to the 2nd century BC.
The torc was a sign of nobility and high social status: a decoration awarded to warriors for their deeds in battle, as well as a divine attribute, since some depictions of Celtic gods wear one or more torcs. Images of the god Cernunnos wearing one torc around his neck, with torcs hanging from his antlers or held in his hand, have been found.
The Roman consul Titus Manlius in the 361s BC challenged a Gaul to single combat and killed him, and then took his torc. Because he always wore it, he received the nickname Torquatus (the one who wears a torc). After this, Romans adopted the torc as a decoration for distinguished soldiers and elite units during Republican times.