The Mold Gold Cape
- The Mold Gold Cape
Gold cape. 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 founded with the cape may have served to strengthen the adornment further.
- 1900BC-1600BC (circa)
- Found/Acquired: 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)
- Weight: 560 grammes
- Length: 465 millimetres
- Width: 280 millimetres
- Height: 235 millimetres
- Length: 240 millimetres (neck opening)
- Width: 220 millimetres (neck opening)
- Length: 5.13 millimetres (sample)
- Width: 5.67 millimetres (sample)
- Thickness: 0.11 millimetres (sample)
- Weight: 0.052 milligrams (sample)
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 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.
A small sample from a fragment of the cape has been taken for scientific analysis. It is a small triangular sheet fragment decorated with one embossed dot and one rib defined by a row of pointillé.
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
2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
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, Belgium, Tournai, Halle aux Drapes, Au Temps de Stonehenge
20 March 2002
Reason for treatment
Clean and reset to improve appearance. Infill all major gaps with gilt copper patterned to match original.
Req75261(Nov 2000). (Original restoration backing of pva and terylene net) After thirty years of handling the parts of this fragmentary object had become misaligned,there was dirt ingrained in the PVA adhesive of the joints and the whole surface was dull and dingy.Req.No78825 (2002); Gaps existed at both shoulders and the lower edge at the centre of the back. A portion of the cape was missing from an area extending from the neck hole diagonally to the front lower rim. This piece had been infilled in a former restoration (IMM.1964 [photos of 1964 restoration; PRB.M.81 - 83; metals index E102/0 -2]) using an electroform reproduction taken from the opposite side of the cape.[photos PEE.M.703 - 706; metals index E102/3 - E102/6]
1980; No Req; outside surface moulded with Silicon Rubber. Silastic RTV N9161. (P Shorer 11 Nov 1980) [photos, metals photos K10/1 - 8]Req 75261, ( Nov 2000); The joints were re-aligned by hand and the whole was thoroughly steam cleaned thus removing dirt and grime some of which had probaply been there since its acquisition. (IMM, 6hours)Req.78825 (30 Nov 2001). A method was devised which resembled the original technique in principle making it possible to manufacture infill pieces which closely copied the original goldwork. The new gilt copper pieces were held in place by tabs and 'Devcon' 5min epoxy adhesive. Requirements of display meant that the fibreglass mount was considerably cut down and lightened thus revealing a lot more of the inside of the restored cape. For aesthetic reasons some of the white polypropylene net restoration material was cut away and the remainder painted to match using powder pigments in shellac.
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
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: email@example.com
Object reference number: BCB12980
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.