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Clare Reliquary Cross early fifteenth century

Gold (with traces of enamel), pearls, wood | 3.5 x 2 x 1 cm (excluding suspension chain) | RCIN 69738

  • Gold pectoral cross; panel on front engraved with a crucifix figure against a cross-shaped area, once keyed for enamel, of which only a red trace now remains, with pounced black enamelled letters INRI in black letters on a scroll above; the outer arms and back pounced with a scrolling foliate design; mounted with a pearl in each angle; on a chain of twisted gold links.

    Behind the cross is a cavity where minute fragments of wood were found when the cross was discovered, indicating that it once held pieces of what was believed to be a relic of the True Cross on which Christ was crucified, suggesting that this was a reliquary cross.

    Catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014.

    The cross was found in 1866 during the construction of the railway station on the site of Clare Castle, Suffolk, and acquired as Treasure Trove.

    Clare Castle belonged to the Mortimer family, Earls of March, in the fifteenth century. The Castle passed to Richard, Duke of York, on the death of Edmund, Earl of March, in 1425, and was later granted by Edward IV to his mother Cecily, Duchess of York, who remained in possession until her death in 1495. This reliquary is believed to have belonged to Cecily, Duchess of York, mother of both Edward IV and Richard III.

  • Medium and techniques

    Gold (with traces of enamel), pearls, wood


    3.5 x 2 x 1 cm (excluding suspension chain)