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cape

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1856,1014.1

  • Description

    Gold cape fragment. The piece of beaten sheet gold is embossed and it has been reincorporated into the restored cape.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1900BC-1600BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 57 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    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.

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  • Bibliography

    • Powell 1953 bibliographic details
    • Needham 2000 bibliographic details
    • Needham 2012 bibliographic details
    • Murgia et al 2014 1.10.2 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G51/dc8

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    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

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1856

  • Acquisition notes

    Formerly in the possesion of Mr Thomas Lowe of Chester 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.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1856,1014.1

Gold cape or corslet; Made from single sheet of beaten gold, with raised decoration of ridges, separating rows of dots, rectangles and lozenges.

Gold cape or corslet; Made from single sheet of beaten gold, with raised decoration of ridges, separating rows of dots, rectangles and lozenges.

Image description

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Object reference number: BCB61080

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