On Friday night, thieves stole $1.4 million in gold and silver objects—including Mary Queen of Scots’s golden rosary beads—from Arundel Castle, a centuries-old structure in England that is home to various artifacts related to the British monarchy. The theft took place just days after the site reopened to the public after a months-long closure resulting from a Covid-related national lockdown in England.
In its statement on the heist, the Sussex Police said that the stolen objects were of “great historical significance.” Also taken during the theft were coronation cups given by Mary to the Earl Marshal.
The rosary beads were held by Mary on her execution day in 1587. The Sussex Police said that, while they were of “little intrinsic value as metal,” they are “irreplaceable” because of their importance to British history. They had long been on display in a cabinet at the castle, along with the other objects.
The heist took place at 10:30 p.m. on May 21, according to the Sussex Police. An alarm sounded after thieves broke in, and police said they arrived “within minutes.” Police are investigating whether an incident involving a saloon that was set on fire in the nearby town of Barlavington is related to the heist.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the trustees of Arundel Castle said, “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.”