The story of the Mold Cape unfolds in a new display
The Mold Cape returns to Cardiff and Wrexham
The Mold Cape has long been recognised as an iconic object that links the people of Wales with their ancient past. Returning to National Museum Cardiff on 2 July and then to Wrexham County Borough Museum from 8 August 2013, the ceremonial gold cape will be accompanied by new research, further uncovering the mystery behind the Bronze Age object.
The Mold Cape – a permanent and highlight exhibit at the British Museum - was first discovered on 11 October 1833, on the eastern outskirts of Mold, Flintshire. While workmen were employed filling in a gravel pit at the side of a road, they uncovered this decorated gold object in the side of a stony bank. Today, it is recognised as one of the finest achievements in gold craftsmanship from prehistoric Europe. It was a ceremonial cape, a badge of distinction, thought to have been worn by a religious leader.
Drawing upon the recent research of Stuart Needham, Honorary Fellow of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, we can now suggest that some fragments of gold sheet found in the grave belong to a second and earlier gold cape, also buried within this grave. It would appear that there was a distinctive tradition of making capes in North East Wales.
New findings suggest the gold cape was worn by a ‘woman of distinction’, not a man, as previously assumed. Also, the true age of this grave and the exceptional objects within it can now be confirmed as being around 3,700 years old, belonging to the Early Bronze Age.
David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said:
“Working in partnership with museums such as the British Museum and Wrexham County Borough Museum ensures everyone has access to precious artefacts such as the Mold Cape locally, nationally and internationally.
“Our new display, which has been co-authored with Wrexham County Borough Museum, presents the cape in a new and different light, emphasising its place within the rich and distinctive Bronze Age archaeology of north east Wales.
“And there’s potential for more discoveries. Perhaps geological and archaeological research in the future may reveal the source of the gold – though Welsh gold sources are possible contenders – reflecting Wales’s mineral wealth since prehistoric times.”
Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths, said:
"The Mold Gold Cape is an iconic artefact and I am delighted to see it return to Wales again. I am extremely pleased to see our national and local museums form such a fruitful partnership with the British Museum. I hope many people across Wales take advantage of the opportunity to be dazzled by the wonderful craftsmanship of the Cape and the light it sheds on our past."
The Mold Cape will be exhibited beside the treasures of the nation’s archaeological collections, in the Origins: In Search of Early Wales gallery at National Museum Cardiff from 2 July to 4 August before being shown at Wrexham County Borough Museum from 8 August to 14 September 2013. It will be on display for free at both venues as part of the Spotlight Tours organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme.
Amgueddfa Cymru’s fine Bronze Age displays will in the near future be relocated and shown at St Fagans: National History Museum, within a number of newly combined archaeology and history galleries. We are currently in the process of redeveloping the museum, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government and Heritage Lottery Fund, to create an unique museum where visitors will be able to explore over 200,000 years of the story of the peoples of Wales.