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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
British Museum's rare cup coup
The Ringlemere Cup
The Ringlemere Cup is one of only five in Europe
A rare gold cup from the Bronze Age has been secured for display by the British Museum.

It is only the second example of its type to come from the UK, with just five cups of this type known across the whole of Europe.

Found in Ringlemere, east Kent, in 2001, the cup has helped provide further evidence of the extensive trading networks that covered Europe during the Bronze Age.

It was "virtually reconstructed" using an endoscope, radiography and x-rays following scientific examination of the cup at the British Museum.

The artefact dates from between 1700 and 1500 BC - the same era as Stonehenge - and reveals a higher level of workmanship than was previously thought possible for this time.

A team of archaeologists has been working on the site where the cup was found, and discovered a previously unsuspected funeral site from the early Bronze Age.

Reconstruction of gold cup
This is how the cup is thought to have originally looked
However the assumption that the cup was dislodged by modern ploughing from a grave remains to be proven.

It was acquired for the museum through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Art Collections Fund and Friends of the British Museum.

The Ringlemere Cup will be on display in the London museum's Round Reading Room from Thursday and will feature on BBC Two series Hidden Treasures, which is being shown in the autumn.

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