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The Ringlemere Cup: One of the oldest treasures ever found in Britain

Marija Georgievska

It was found in 2001 by metal detectorist Cliff Bradshaw in the Ringlemere barrow near Sandwich in the English county of Kent.

The Ringlemere Cup is a Bronze Age vessel that is 14 cm high with corrugated sites.

The Ringlemere cup. Photo Credit

The Ringlemere cup. Photo Credit

There are other examples of cups that are similar to the Ringlemere cup. Seven other similar cups have been found in Europe, all dating to the period between 1700 and 1500 BC.

It is believed that the Ringlemere cup is one of the oldest treasures ever to be found in Britain.

Side view showing rivets and pointillé lip decoration. Photo Credit

Side view showing rivets and pointillé lip decoration. Photo Credit

On the site where the cup was found, archaeologists discovered a funeral site from the early Bronze Age. The Ringlemere Cup was buried in a round barrow close to an important chieftain’s grave.

However, it is thought that the cup was not a grave good but a votive offering which was placed at the center of the barrow.

It is thought that the cup was not a grave good however but a votive offering. Photo Credit

It is thought that the cup was not a grave good however but a votive offering. Photo Credit

Bradshaw was convinced that the gold cup belonged to an earlier age, revered and left alone by the Anglo-Saxons who had used the site for their burials.

Model of the Ringlemere cup. Photo Credit

Model of the Ringlemere cup. Photo Credit

The cup was recorded and declared to be a treasure in 2002.

After it was bought by the British Museum and the money to secure the cup for the nation was raised through donations by the National Art Collections Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the British Museum Friends.

Although badly crushed by recent plough damage it can be seen to have been 14 cm high with corrugated sides. Photo Credit

Although badly crushed by recent plow damage it can be seen to have been 14 cm high with corrugated sides. Photo Credit

In the list of British archaeological finds, the Ringlemere cup was number 10 selected by experts at the British Museum for the 2003 BBC Television documentary Our Top Ten Treasures.

The cup was number 10 in the list of British archaeological finds selected by experts at the British Museum. Photo Credit

The cup was number 10 in the list of British archaeological finds selected by experts at the British Museum. Photo Credit

The cup has been in many museums throughout the last decade. For two years (2004-2006) the cup was in the Museum’s “Buried Treasure” exhibition on a treasure trove.

Today, the cup is on display in the Prehistory galleries at the British Museum. Photo Credit

Today, the cup is on display in the Prehistory galleries at the British Museum. Photo Credit

When it was returned to London, it was on temporary display in Room 2 at the British Museum together with the Rillaton cup.

Like buried treasure? Another story from us: Sutton Hoo: One of the most magnificent archaeological finds in England

In 2007, the cup was on temporary display in Dover Museum and today it is back in the British Museum in the Prehistory galleries.