Gold: Power and Allure

Subtitled '4,500 years of gold treasures from across Britain', this exhibition tells the story of the country's relationship with the precious metal. On show are more than 400 gold items ranging in date from as early as 2500 BC to the present day, including important loans such as a lunula (fastening) dating from 2000-1500BC, which was found in Northern Ireland, and a range of gold torcs (neck ornaments) found in Ipswich and among the great hoards at Snettisham, Newark, which reveal the skills of later Bronze Age and early Iron Age goldsmiths. From the medieval period are cobochon set gold brooches, including the Middleham Jewel, which was discovered by metal detector near Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire in 1985 and subsequently sold at auction for £1.3 million. Religion, royalty and ceremony are represented by objects that reveal gold to be both a pagan and Christian symbol of the divine. On show are a Bronze Age sun disc and a communion cup made of Guinea gold for a church in Welshpool in 1662, along with a chalice commissioned in the mid-1950s. The long association of gold with royalty is examined through items loaned from the Royal Collections, including the Chaplet of George, Prince of Wales and a gold cup presented to the Duke of Norfolk in 1821 for his services as Earl Marshall. The story of Britain's gold currency is explored in a 'Gold and Finance' section featuring historic coins. There are also displays about 'Dining and Living', 'Sporting Gold' (including examples from the four Olympic Games that awarded solid gold medals) 'Gold and Military' and 'Golden Threads and Curiosities', with costumes and curios such as a mechanical lifesize mouse from 1810, made in gold and decorated with pearls. The exhibition concludes with 'Gold for our Time', which showcases contemporary works by William Lee, Michael Lloyd, Lin Sproule and others. A 'Gold Trail' charts major collections of gold and points of interest in museums, institutions and churches around the country.


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