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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 07:08 GMT
Gold cape stars at British Museum
Mold Cape, British Museum
The restored 4,000-year-old Mold Cape weighs 1Kg
A priceless Bronze Age gold cape discovered in north Wales forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition opening at the British Museum in London on Thursday.

The British Museum has unveiled the newly-restored Mold cape as the iconic focal point of a new permanent gallery, Prehistory: Objects of Power.

Mold Cape, artist impression
The cape was possibly a significant religious artefact

The cape is widely regarded as one of the finest pieces of Bronze Age craftsmanship in the world.

The final pieces of the delicate 4,000-year-old cape were recently pieced together, helping historians envisage how it would have looked.

It will star alongside other priceless artefacts from round the world, including the Montrastruc spear thrower, from Garonne, France, and the Sintra gold collar, from Portugal, dating from 900-700 BC.

The carved, mammoth-shaped spear thrower dates back to 12,000BC.

The cape's value would certainly surpass its weight in gold

Spokewoman, British Museum

The Mold cape is made from the equivalent of 23-carat gold and weighs one kilogram.

Historians believe it was possibly worn as a garment for religious ceremonies by someone of great authority.

It was created from a single ingot of gold and decorated in meticulous detail with ribs and bosses, giving an impression of folded cloth.

The cape was discovered in pieces in a grave with the bones of a man at Bryn yr Ellyllon (the Fairies' or Goblins' Hill), in Mold, north Wales, in 1833.

The British Museum came into possession of many of the pieces in 1836, but it was years later before the remaining fragments were discovered.

Sintra collar
The Sintra collar was found in Portugal

"It is one of the finest examples of sheet metal gold work from the Bronze Age," said a British Museum spokeswoman.

"Pre-historic items normally come in the shape of flints and axeheads.

"It is also very important to British pre-history.

She added: "It is almost impossible to value.

"Its value would certainly surpass its weight in gold and we do not look at it in those terms."

A replica of the artefact is displayed at the heritage centre and museum in Mold.

The orginal has been held in London because museums locally are not secure enough to display it.

BBC Wales's Caroline Evans
"It was found in 1833 by a labourer's wife in north Wales"

More news from north east Wales
See also:

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15 Jan 02 | Arts
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10 Mar 01 | Europe
Hand stolen from British Museum
18 Jun 01 | Wales
'Brymbo Man' meets his public
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