Police dig for £1m hoard of artefacts stolen from Arundel Castle

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Arundel Castle, Mary Queen of Scots bequeathed her gold cross and rosary beads to her friend Anne Dacre - @ArundelCastle
Arundel Castle, Mary Queen of Scots bequeathed her gold cross and rosary beads to her friend Anne Dacre - @ArundelCastle

Police are digging an area of wasteland in search for £1 million worth of historical artefacts stolen from Arundel Castle, as a man has been arrested in connection with the burglary.

The raid in West Sussex in May saw historic treasures stolen, including a set of "irreplaceable" gold rosary beads which Mary Queen of Scots carried to her execution in 1587.

Other items taken in the burglary included coronation cups given by Mary to the Earl Marshal, as well as gold and silver items.

Police announced that a 45-year-old man had been arrested at a travellers' site in Eckington, Worcestershire, on Tuesday morning and remains in custody.

Officers conducted eight warrants at addresses in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

Six other men were also arrested and are being interviewed by Gloucestershire and West Mercia officers in relation to alleged burglary, assault and drugs offences, all unrelated to the burglary at Arundel Castle, Sussex Police said.

Officers were seen digging at a site in Alverscot, near Carterton in Oxfordshire, which is one of eight locations being searched in connection with the missing pieces.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “A site at Alverscot, near Carterton in Oxfordshire, is one of the eight sites we are currently searching as part of this operation. None of the items from the Castle burglary have been found there at this stage.”

Arundel Castle cabinet - Sussex News
Arundel Castle cabinet - Sussex News

Detective Inspector Alan Pack, of Sussex Police, said: “Our investigation into the Arundel Castle burglary remains live and this action marks a significant step in our enquiries.

“I would encourage anyone with further information about this burglary to contact us and also remind people that the insurers have offered a substantial reward should any of the property be recovered intact.

“You can also contact us either online or by calling 101, quoting Operation Deuce.”

The collection, valued at more than £1 million, consisted of Mary Queen of Scots Rosary Beads, seven gold and silver-gilt coronation cups, a gold Earl Marshal's baton, and other miscellaneous items including 10 silver-gilt Apostle Spoons.

A Sussex Police spokesman at the time said: “The rosary is of little intrinsic value as metal, but as a piece of the Howard family history and the nation's heritage it is irreplaceable.”

Staff were alerted to the break-in at 10.30pm on Friday May 21 after a burglar alarm went off and police were scrambled to the scene.

A 4x4 saloon car was later found burnt out and abandoned.

In June, Sussex Police released photos of two ladders used by thieves who broke into the Castle and stole the items.

The two metal ladders, one 6' long and one 12', were found at the Castle and “had clearly been well used over some years,” officers said.

“The long ladder has some distinctive black and yellow paint splashings and each has some worn labelling,” the force added, in the hope that someone in the decorating or building trade realised that they are missing them.

A spokesman for Arundel Castle Trustees said at the time: “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.”

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