In 1833, some workmen digging in a mound known as Bryn yr Ellyllon (Hill of the Goblins) got a big surprise! They found a human skeleton with crushed gold wrapped around it. They also found amber beads, strips of bronze and another gold object buried near the skeleton.
They did what?
Charles Butler Gough, the vicar of Mold, made a list of all the items found in the mound. Then the cape was torn up! Pieces were handed out to people – the biggest piece was given to a man named Mr Langford (who rented the field). He sold his piece to the British Museum in 1836. Only one of the amber beads ever reached the Museum.
A guessing game
The gold pieces were badly damaged so it was difficult to put them together. At first experts thought they were from a piece of armour worn around the chest by a warrior or even a pony! In the 1960s archaeologists joined the pieces together to make a cape. In 2002 the missing parts were filled in to complete it.
It's a piece of cape!
Over the years some of the smaller bits of gold have been rediscovered. These have been added into the cape at the Museum. Other pieces have been lost forever – some have probably been made into modern jewellery.
The mound where the cape was buried was probably part of a stone-lined grave, covered with more stones and soil. We think it was a woman’s grave, because other graves from the same time that had jewellery in them seem to belong to women. The cape may have been buried with the person who wore it during life.
The mysterious cape-wearer
The cape fits a slender adult or even a child. Whoever wore it must have been wealthy or important. But none of the skeleton bones has survived so experts are not sure how old the person was. The cape was probably only worn on special occasions because it’s hard to move your arms while wearing it!
Telling the time
Experts used to think the cape was made around the AD 400s, just after the Romans left Britain. But now they think it’s a lot older, from a time known as the Bronze Age (about 2150-1550 BC – that’s more than four thousand years ago!).
Completing the outfit
There are small holes along the top and bottom of the cape, so it might have been sewn on to cloth that hung down over the body. One of the other gold objects found in the grave also has holes along the edge – experts wonder if it might have been another cape.