Police dig up wasteland in search of stolen Arundel Castle artefacts

Police dig up wasteland in Oxfordshire in search of stolen artefacts from £1m raid on Arundel Castle – including gold rosary beads belonging to Mary Queen of Scots – as man, 45, is released under investigation

  • Treasures worth more than £1million were stolen in raid on Arundel Castle 
  • The missing items include gold and silverware and Mary Queen of Scots’ rosary
  • A 45-year-old man was arrested over the incident but was later released
  • Investigators are digging a site on wasteland in Oxfordshire they believe could contain the stolen treasure 

Investigators are digging up wasteland in the search for £1 million worth of precious artefacts stolen in a raid on Arundel Castle. 

A break-in at the medieval site in West Sussex in May saw several treasures stolen, including a set of gold rosary beads which belonged to Mary Queen of Scots.

The ‘irreplaceable’ rosary – which police say has little intrinsic value as metal – was carried with Mary to her execution in 1587.

None of the centuries-old artefacts taken during the night-time raid at the castle have yet been recovered. 

Investigators are digging up wasteland in the search for £1 million worth of precious artefacts stolen in a raid on Arundel Castle. They include a  set of gold rosary beads which were carried with Mary Queen of Scots to her execution

None of the centuries-old artefacts taken during the night-time raid at Arundel Castle have yet been recovered

Sussex Police confirmed today that a 45-year-old man arrested in Worcestershire in connection with the burglary on Tuesday morning has since been released under investigation. 

Officers conducted eight warrants at addresses in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and six other men were also arrested in relation to other offences.

One of the sites is an area of wasteland near Carterton in Oxfordshire where police were seen digging in search of the treasure.

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.’

A man, 45, has been released under investigation over the theft of rosary beads that Mary Queen of Scots carried with her to her execution in 1587, were the pride of the collection at the West Sussex castle

Several gold or silver-gilt coronation cups were also stolen during the raid

The collection, valued at more than £1 million, comprised: Mary Queen of Scots’s rosary beads, seven gold/silver-gilt coronation cups (George II, George III, George IV, William IV, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II), gold Earl Marshal’s baton, gold and enamel baton, other miscellaneous items including 10 silver-gilt apostle spoons, a silver-gilt casket with hunting and fishing scenes, and a silver-gilt mug. 

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 inquiries.

‘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.’

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 4×4 saloon car was later found burnt out and abandoned. 

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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