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
Was Cornwall the site of a prehistoric gold rush? David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent for The Independent, reports –
New archaeological research is revealing that south-west Britain was the scene of a prehistoric gold rush. A detailed analysis of some of Western Europe’s most beautiful gold artefacts suggests that Cornwall was a miniature Klondyke in the Early Bronze Age. Geological estimates now indicate that up to 200 kilos of gold, worth in modern terms almost £5 million, was extracted in the Early Bronze Age from Cornwall and West Devon’s rivers – mainly between the 22nd and 17th centuries BC.
New archaeological and metallurgical research suggests that substantial amounts were exported to Ireland, with smaller quantities probably also going to France. It also suggests that the elites of Stonehenge almost certainly likewise obtained their gold from the south-west peninsula, as may the rulers of north-west Wales, who took to wearing capes made of solid gold.