This story seems very similar to that of the Lindisfarne Gospels  – and is made more similar by the fact that the British Library & the British Museum used to be one & the same institution.
Yet again, an artefact is returned – but only on a very short term loan. This seems to be an acknowledgement that in some ways it belongs closer to where it was created – but at the same time limiting its visit to as short a period as possible, to stop people getting any idea that it may make sense for it to be permanently on display outside the British Museum.
Mold Gold Cape To Return To Area
Posted: February 22, 2013 Written by Rob Taylor
The Mold Gold Cape will go on loan from the British Museum for public display in Wales this summer. In partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives, this will be the third time the cape will have been displayed in Cardiff and will go on to be shown in Wrexham, not far from where it was found. The Cape will be on display for free at both venues as part of the Spotlight Tours organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme.
The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial gold cape and made around 3,700 years ago, during the Early Bronze Age. A highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the cape will be shown at National Museum Cardiff 2 July to 4 August and then Wrexham County Borough Museum, 7 August to 14 September 2013.
The cape is one of the finest examples of prehistoric sheet and embossed-gold working in Europe. Skillfully and carefully fashioned from a single sheet of thin gold, it is unique in design. The cape was discovered in Mold, Flintshire in 1833 when workmen discovered a skeleton in a grave at the centre of a circular burial monument. The accompanying grave goods, hundreds of amber beads, gold and bronze fragments, were divided up between them and the land tenant. The British Museum, recognizing its importance and significance – and at a time before a National Museum existed in Wales – devoted efforts and care in acquiring the cape and accompanying fragments for its collections. It was given prominence in the British Museum prehistory displays from early on and in the 1960s and 70s British Museum experts looked at how the fragments were joined. The original shape of the object only became clear after painstaking work at the Museum, piecing together all the embossed fragments to reveal its original form as a cape. Recent research has suggested that the wearer of the cape, amber bead necklace and the bronze knife may have been a woman.
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said, “We are delighted that this exceptional object of national and international significance will be displayed in Cardiff and Wrexham this summer and are hugely grateful to our partners, the National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum, for their collaboration as well as the Art Fund for their support. Through research on rare objects like the Mold Gold Cape, in recent years we have come to see British prehistoric societies very differently. These precious objects show us that societies in Britain must then have been extremely sophisticated, both in skill and in their social structure. They were not isolated but part of a larger European trade network, a web of trade and exchange from North Wales to Scandinavia.”
David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said, “We’re delighted that this priceless Bronze Age masterpiece from north east Wales will soon be on display here again at the National Museum Cardiff. Having one of Britain’s most famous ancient artefacts and one of the most important European Bronze Age finds on display in Wales, where it was originally found, is a wonderful and unique opportunity for local people and visitors to enjoy and to find out more about their heritage and early past. Working in partnership with museums such as the British Museum and Wrexham County Borough Museum enables precious artefacts such as the Mold Cape to be accessible to all. The Mold Cape is of great importance, in both local and national contexts and is also of international significance to our understanding of cultural expression and power relations in Early Bronze Age Europe, reflected both in life and in death.”
Councillor Neil Rogers Leader of Wrexham County Borough Council said, “The last time the Mold Cape came to Wrexham Museum in 2005 it attracted 11,500 visitors in just 12 weeks. That fact more than any other illustrates the huge level of interest amongst the local public for both archaeology and our shared prehistoric heritage. So I am naturally excited at the prospect of the Cape’s return to the town. The exhibition at Wrexham Museum will tell the story of its discovery and by looking at the evidence for other similar sites in the area, attempt to set it in its contemporary archaeological context. The display of the Cape would clearly not be possible without the co-operation of both the British Museum and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Council is extremely grateful to both bodies for their on-going support in continuing to bring our shared National treasures to Wrexham.”
The Mold Gold Cape was featured as one of the top ten treasures in the 100 objects in “A History of the World” in partnership with the BBC. This project was awarded The Art Fund Prize in 2011 and the prize money awarded has formed the basis for The Spotlight Tours.