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Great Britain

The Rillaton cup Early Bronze Age

Gold alloy | 8.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 69742

  • A Bronze Age gold cup, formed from a single sheet of gold and decorated with horizontal concentric corrugations, terminating at the bottom around a central boss and flattening out at the top to create a rim. There are small areas of pontillé decoration below the rim and the handle (and it is thought that there may have been further sections that have been polished off over time). The handle is made of a separate, flat piece of gold and is riveted to the body with six rivets and lozenge-shaped washers. The handle is waisted in form, narrowing slightly as it travels away from the rim of the body and it is decorated with five grooves, originally small corrugations, that run the full length of the handle.

    The cup is a very rare example of early Bronze age gold and is one of only seven other Northern European examples. It is similar to another cup in the British Museum, The Ringlemere Cup; however that example has been severely crumpled during its history.

    Catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014.

    Excavated in 1837, together with a dagger, from a stone cist beneath a cairn of stones at Rillaton, Cornwall; the cup was contained within a ceramic vessel which may account for its intact state when discovered. The land upon which it was found belonged to the Duchy of Cornwall, so the cup and dagger were presented to William IV as Treasure Trove shortly before he died. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert displayed the items at their private museum in the Swiss Cottage, Osborne House. After Queen Victoria's death the cup was moved to Marlborough House and then eventually to Buckingham Palace, where it was placed in a cabinet of gold items in King George V's Audience Room. After the King's death in 1936, and following an investigation into the history of the Rillaton find, Queen Mary advised her son Edward VIII to transfer the cup to the British Museum on long term loan.

  • Medium and techniques

    Gold alloy


    8.5 cm (whole object)

    76.6 g (Weight) (whole object)