This impressive gold-alloy ingot is one of three items of Iron Age gold discovered in Towton, Yorkshire. Two twisted gold torc-bracelets uncovered at the same find-spot are now on display in the Yorkshire Museum, York; alongside the Towton Ingot, they provide unprecedented insight into Britain's prehistoric era, offering a clear indication that there was significant wealth in the region before the Roman invasion, a theory which previously has been the subject only of academic speculation. Archaeological experts believe that the bracelets could have belonged to an extremely wealthy, possibly royal, member of the Brigantes tribe, who ruled the majority of northern England. By the time of the Roman invasion of 43 A.D., they were arguably the most powerful Celtic tribe in Britain.
The uniform C-shape indicates that this is most likely an ingot, rather than a torc-bracelet, while similarities in style and metal-composition to examples of Bronze Age pennanular bracelets found at Mooghaun North, Co. Clare, Ireland, cf. BM 1857,0627.5, as well as to an example from Wanlass, in North Yorkshire, cf. BM 1893,1017.1, intimates that the ingot may also have originated in Ireland. Cunliffe has argued for significant trade links between Ireland as a source of bullion along the Atlantic sea routes to England from the 8th Century B.C., cf. B. Cunliffe, Iron Age Communities in Britain, Abingdon, 2005, p. 460ff.
The discovery of this ingot alongside the two other torc-bracelets now in the Yorkshire Museum suggests that the Brigantes tribe may have been producing bracelets from gold imported from Ireland, perhaps to trade with, or in imitation of the jewellery worn by, the Iceni in the South, where bracelets of similar type have been found, cf. I. M. Stead, 'The Snettisham Treasure: excavations in 1990', Antiquity 65, pp. 447-465. The Yorkshire Museum arm-rings show traces of electrum solder, and the terminals of the second bracelet to be found at Towton share a similar metal composition to the Ingot, supporting this idea of a Brigantian gold workshop. The Towton Ingot, therefore, provides tantalising indication of a network of trade and production: as bullion, its impressive weight signifies that there was notable wealth amongst the Brigantes whilst also suggesting their status as a manufacturing centre.