The golden rosary beads carried by Mary, Queen of Scots to her execution in 1587, along with other treasures totaling over a million dollars were stolen in an old-fashioned English castle heist late last Friday night.
“Mary, a Roman Catholic, was ousted from the Scottish throne then imprisoned, accused of treason and executed on the orders of her Protestant cousin Elizabeth I of England, a series of events that loom large in the British imagination.”
Other items stolen from the Arundel Castle in West Sussex include coronation cups given by Mary to the Earl Marshal and trove of other gold and silver treasures.
Less than week after being reopening after being closed for a majority of the pandemic, police say thieves entered through a window and smashed a glass cabinet to nab the goods of “great historical significance” before abandoning the getaway car in a nearby town and setting it on fire, which according to Sussex Police Detective Constable Molly O’Malley “was linked” to the crime.
A spokesman for the Arundel Castle Trustees said the rosary had “little intrinsic value as metal” but was “irreplaceable as a piece of the nation’s heritage”:
“The stolen items have significant monetary value, but as unique artefacts of the Duke of Norfolk’s collection have immeasurably greater and priceless historical importance. We therefore urge anyone with information to come forward to the police to assist them in returning these treasures back where they belong.”
Professor of criminology at the University of Brighton Peter Squires said there was a “surprising amount” of thefts of “antiquities or cultural artefacts” and could have been “stolen to order” and likely ended up in the private collections of very rich people.
“In war zones in the Middle East, there is a lot of evidence of museums being looted and the stolen items quickly finding themselves on to the dark web where they are bid on by dealers. Gold of course may just be melted down, which massively reduces its value, so to find someone who wants the items rather than just the bullion value is the thieves’ objective here.”
Andrew Griffith, the parliament member representing the area including Arundel Castle said: “The whole nation joins our sadness this morning. The theft of these irreplaceable artefacts connecting us to our shared history is a crime against us all.”