'Let's open a museum for Gold Cape' says Flintshire councillor

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A CALL has been made for a new museum to be opened in Mold to house a historic Welsh artefact.

Mold East councillor Chris Bithell, who is also a  member of Mold Civic Society, said: “I think the old courthouse building in Mold would be ideal to house the Mold Gold Cape.

“The building plays a large part in the history of Mold and our concern is that if we do not use it then it will become dilapidated once again.

“It was in quite a serious state and the roof was collapsed. We’ve had two grants from the Rural Development Agency, one to make repairs to the building and one to carry out a feasibility study to see it we could turn it into museum, but the study had to be halted because of costs.”

Now Cllr Bithell is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to provide the vital funding needed to further the study.

“It has been a long-term ambition to get the cape back up here. It has worldwide significance and I for one would be very pleased to see it come home.

“We will never lose sight of this.”

However, a spokesman at the British Museum in London said the Gold Cape will never return to Wales permanently.

The 3,400-year-old cape, which dates back to the Bronze Age, was discovered by workmen digging for stone at Bryn yr Ellyllon in 1833.

Despite a long-running campaign to bring the cape home, the British Museum, where it is currently on exhibit, say the chances are slim.

“The Mold Gold Cape is an important representation of Bronze Age culture and is very popular with the museum’s six million visitors a year,” said Olivia Rickman from the British Museum.

“The original shape of the object only became clear after a decade of painstaking work at the museum of piecing together all the embossed fragments.”

The cape last came to Wales in 2005 where it was put on display at the County Borough Museum in Wrexham.

The British Museum say it would be happy to loan the cape again but a permanent home in Mold is unlikely.

“The museum is always keen to lend the collection so it can be seen and appreciated by as wide an audience as possible,” added Miss Rickman.

“The museum will always consider all loan requests it receives.”

The dispute over the cape began after Plaid Cymru candidate Elfyn Llwyd said in a parliamentary debate that the cape was part of the Welsh “collective memory” and should come home.

Community leaders in Mold are not the only ones to offer a home to the cape.

On Friday the Leader reported that art dealer Simon Wingett, the mastermind behind the plan for a 200ft high Dragon Tower near Chirk, said he would be “delighted” to look after the cape.

“The cape is Welsh and should be in Wales and I am more than happy to back that,” he said.

“I think the Dragon Tower would be a fabulous place to keep it.”

After its restoration the cape was found to be too small to fit the body of a king as previously thought and is most likely to have belonged to a woman or child.

New research and a reassessment of the cape has been carried out by the British Museum and will be presented at conference later this year at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

The cape is currently featured in the BBC series The History of the World in 100 Objects.

 

See full story in the Leader

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