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The Mold Gold Cape

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Mold Gold Cape
  • Description

    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.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1900BC-1600BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • 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)
  • 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 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.


  • Bibliography

    • Powell 1953 bibliographic details
    • Needham 2000 bibliographic details
    • Needham 2012 bibliographic details
    • Murgia et al 2014 1.10.1 bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010, pp.117-123 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G51/dc8

  • Exhibition history

    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

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    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


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: BCB12980

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