The Rillaton Gold Cup. Early Bronze Age (1,800-1,600bce)
On loan to the British Museum from the Royal Collections
Image: The Heritage Trust
Continuing with our Cornish theme we’ve chosen the Rillaton Gold Cup as July’s Object of the Month. The cup was found in a burial cairn at Rillaton on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Quoting from the British Museum’s online entry on the Rillaton Cold Cup which states that –
Workmen engaged in construction work in 1837 plundered a burial cairn for stone on part of Bodmin Moor, at Rillaton. In one side of the mound they came upon a stone-lined vault, or cist, 2.4 m long and 1.1 m wide. It contained the decayed remains of a human skeleton accompanied by this gold cup, a bronze dagger and other objects that have not survived – a decorated pottery vessel, a ‘metallic rivet’, ‘some pieces of ivory’ and ‘a few glass beads’. The pot and gold cup were set beneath a slab leaning against the west wall of the cist.
The Ringlemere Gold Cup (right). Early Bronze Age (1,800-1,600bce)
Collection of the British Museum
The Rillaton Gold Cup is in a case with the Ringlemere Cup which, to quote from the British Museum again –
This crushed object was found in November 2001 by Cliff Bradshaw, while metal detecting near Ringlemere in east Kent. It is one of the most important recent finds in Britain. Cliff had been studying archaeology and realized that the object was gold and probably ancient. Researching further, he found a picture of the only Bronze Age gold cup found in Britain – the Rillaton cup. Cliff realized his discovery was important and reported it.
An archaeological dig took place to find out more about where the cup was found. This revealed that the cup came from a massive burial mound surrounded by a circular ditch. Scientists and archaeologists at the British Museum also examined the cup using X-rays and an endoscope. We now know that it was worked from a single ingot of gold using a hammer and former and we can recreate its shape. It was not crushed when first buried, but was damaged by farming [deep ploughing].