Ely Museum ‘devastated’ after ‘despicable’ theft of ‘irreplaceable’ Bronze Age gold artefacts

Ely Museum 'devastated' after 'despicable' theft of 'irreplaceable' Bronze Age gold artefacts

A museum has said it is “devastated” after thieves stole gold artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age, around 3,000 years ago.

Ely Museum in Cambridgeshire said the East Cambridgeshire gold torc and a gold bracelet were stolen in a break-in during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The museum acquired the torc, valued at £220,000, in 2017 using grants and donations from the public.

Pic: Cambridgeshire County Council

It is described on the museum’s website as its “most prized object”.

Museum curator, Elie Hughes, said on X: “We are devastated by the loss to the museum and to the local heritage of the region.

“It is a huge blow after the incredible support from the community in acquiring the torc in 2017.

“As a culturally significant object, it cannot be replaced. Our priority now is working with the police to locate the stolen objects.”

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Cambridgeshire Police said it was looking for two suspects on e-scooters who were believed to be involved in the theft, the Museum said.

Detective Inspector Kiri Mazur, quoted by the museum on X, said: “The theft of these items is despicable, and we are focused on identifying the offenders, tracing the items, and returning them to their rightful place. We are working closely with staff at Ely Museum to follow all lines of enquiry.”

She said investigators were focused on the museum, and the area immediately around it, including its car park and nearby council offices, between 12am and 2am.

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The museum was closed on Tuesday.

The torc, which dates from between 1300 and 1100BC and was found in a ploughed field in East Cambridgeshire by a metal detectorist in 2015, is regarded as the best example found in England in more than a century.

It is made of 730g (1lb 10oz) of almost pure gold and the museum says it is one of the largest ever found in the UK.

The bracelet, also Bronze Age, went on show at the museum in 2010, the Cambridgeshire Times reported, after it was also unearthed by a novice metal detector in Fordham.

Before the arrival of the torc, it was described as the museum’s “star attraction”.