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Updated: 14 April 2015
Gold cape fragment. The piece of beaten sheet gold is embossed and it has been reincorporated into the restored cape.
- 1900BC-1600BC (circa)
- Excavated/Findspot: Mold, The Mold Gold Cape was found in a burial mound in a field named Bryn yr Ellyllon (the Fairies' or Goblins' Hill).
- (Europe,United Kingdom,Wales,Flintshire,Mold)
- Length: 32 millimetres
The Mold Gold Cape was found in 1833 by workmen quarrying for stone in a burial mound. At the centre of the mound there was a stone-lined grave with the crushed gold cape around the fragmentary remains of a skeleton. Strips of bronze and many amber beads were also recovered, but only one of the beads reached the British Museum (1852,0615.1).
The vast majority of the fragments have been reincorporated into the restored cape, except for seven fragments (1972,0601.1-4 and 1836,0902.4-6). Although these fragments were part of the original cape, the reincorporation into the restored cape was not possible.
The cape is one of the finest examples of prehistoric sheet-gold working and is quite unique in form and design. It was laboriously beaten out of a single ingot of gold, and then embellished with intense decoration of ribs and bosses to mimic multiple strings of beads amid folds of cloth. Perforations along the upper and lower edges indicate that it was once attached to a lining, perhaps of leather, which has decayed. The bronze strips may have served to strengthen the adornment further.
The cape would have been unsuitable for everyday wear because it would have severely restricted upper arm movement. Instead it would have served ceremonial roles, and may have denoted religious authority.
2013 7 Aug-14 Sep, Wrexham, Wrexham Museum, Spotlight: The Mold Gold Cape
2013 2 Jul-4 Aug, Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, Spotlight: The Mold Gold Cape
2005 26 Sep-17 Dec, Wrexham, County Borough Museum, Recreations
2000-2001 Dec-Mar, Cardiff, National Museums and Galleries of Wales, What is Wales?
1991 May-Sep, Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, Celts in Wales
1985 1 Aug-13 Oct, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Symbols of Power at the Time of Stonehenge
1984 5 Sep-15 Oct, Tournai, Belgium, Au Temps de Stonehenge
Parts of the Mold gold cape and associated artefacts from the site came to the British Museum at intervals between 1836 and 1972 though the fragments acquired after 1836 were all small. Four gold sheet fragments from the cape were presented to the Grosvenor Museum, Chester by Mr George Lowe in 1953. They were loaned to the British Museum 1966-1987. One fragment belongs to the cape thought the other three appear to relate to fragments 1836.0902.2-3 which may be a distinct object.
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
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Object reference number: BCB63942
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