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 Museum Explorer

Death in Europe

Death mask of Oliver Cromwell

Length: 21.300 cm
Width: 16.200 cm

M&ME SL 2010

Death mask of Oliver Cromwell

From: England
Date: between AD 1658 and 1753

When a famous person died, a wax death mask was often taken of their face. This had to be done quickly, as people’s faces droop soon after death. This wax death mask is of Oliver Cromwell. You can see his beard and moustache, but a big wart that we know he had under his mouth seems to have fallen off.

Oliver Cromwell overthrew the King and ruled England from 1653 until his death in 1658. Shortly after this the monarchy was brought back. When this happened Cromwell’s body was dug up, hung in chains and his head displayed on a pole. The head was then sold on many times and was not finally buried until the 1960s.

Look under ‘Leaders and rulers’ for more about Oliver Cromwell.