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23.03.2021

Ringlemere Cup

The Ringlemere Gold Cup is a Bronze Age vessel found at Ringlemere Barrow near Sandwich in the English county of Kent in 2001.

The body of the cup was created by stamping a solid piece of gold with a handle cut from a flat gold band and attached with rivets. Although heavily crushed by recent plow damage, it can be seen that it was 14 cm high with corrugated walls. The bowl resembles a late Neolithic ceramic tumbler (circa 2300 BC) with corded pottery decoration, but dates to a much later period.

It is believed that the bowl was not a funerary object but a sacrificial offering independent of the burial, which was placed in the center of the mound around 1700-1500 BC. No modern burials have been found at this site, although later Iron Age burials and a Saxon cemetery have since been discovered.

Only seven such gold "cups with unstable handle" (unstable because of the rounded bottom) have been found in Europe, and they all date back to between 1700 and 1500 BC. The Ringlemere Bowl is most similar to another British example, the Rillaton Gold Cup, found in Cornwall in 1837. Other examples are two from Germany, two from Switzerland, one now lost from Brittany, and an unsung, possibly German specimen. Two other silver cups and two amber and several slate cups from Britain have the same basic shape (see Hove's Amber Cup). The finds in Britain are roughly in the Wessex.region and on the continent near the Rhine or Channel coast, suggesting that ships, although probably all arrived fairly locally to the discovery sites belonging to a certain cross-trade area.

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