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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 18:07 GMT
Museum urged to give back relic
British Museum, London
The British Museum has the cape due to security fears
The British Museum has been urged to hand back a 4,000-year-old Welsh treasure.

The Gold Cape of Mold, a Bronze Age artefact, is kept in London due to security concerns at north Wales museums.

But Welsh Assembly Member Alison Halford has insisted that the corselet should be taken home.

Had we a proper museum, the British Museum would allow us it back, which would be useful for tourism

Alison Halford, Delyn AM
Her call in the assembly followed demands from the Nigerian government to return valuable artefacts taken during colonial rule in the 19th century.

It comes a week after British Museum Director Robert Anderson refused renewed calls for the "Elgin marbles" from the Parthenon to be returned to Greece.

"If north Wales had such a museum we would be able to make a legitimate claim for the return of the Gold Cape of Mold," Ms Halford said.

"This is a Bronze Age artefact which rests in the British Museum and would not be allowed to return back to its rightful place because of a security problem.

"Had we a proper museum, then the British Museum would be able to allow us it back which would be useful for tourism and economic development."

Cape clothes

The cape was discovered by Mold workmen in a burial cist under a mound of earth in the Alyn valley near Mold in 1833.

It was buried with human bones and amber beads.

Finely embossed, it would have fitted the over shoulders, upper arms and body of its wearer and is thought to have been worn for ceremonial occasions.

'Brymbo Man' reconstructed from 3,500 bones
'Brymbo Man' returned to Wrexham from the Bronze Age after reconstruction
But the relic has never been displayed in the town, despite museum officials agreeing to meet campaigners in 1999.

A replica was made for Mold Museum, but many locals, who have battled for years to win back their cape, believe the real thing will draw more interest.

Now Delyn AM Ms Halford has taken the fight to the assembly, in a questions session to Culture Minister Jenny Randerson.

The minister said she was set to grant extra money through the Council of Museums to upgrade two Welsh museums.

She asked Ms Halford to write to her, so they could consider approaching the British Museum.

Museum money

"There are 34 museums in museums," Ms Randerson said.

"I would very much hope one of those would be appropriate for the additional funding to provide the security needed for the more valuable artefacts.

"One would hope that, with the improved security in one of them, we would be in a position to perhaps reclaim this cloak."

On 15 January, Mr Anderson of the British Museum said the Elgin Marbles belonged to the museum and people of the UK.

In Athens, however, a 29m museum is under construction, awaiting the return of the artefacts, dated between 447 and 423 BC.

Several prominent actors have joined the campaign for their return to Greece.

Could the British Museum survive such a loss?
See also:

18 Jan 02 | Europe
Nations squabble over antiquities
15 Jan 02 | Arts
Elgin Marbles 'staying' in UK
18 Jun 01 | Wales
'Brymbo Man' meets his public
03 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Museum showcases African art
22 Jun 01 | Arts
Greece steps up marbles fight
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