By Nora McGreevy, Smithsonianmag.com
Thieves snuck in through a window at Arundel Castle, a 1,000-year-old palace in West Sussex, England, on Friday night, smashing a glass cabinet and—in a matter of minutes—making off with a trove of gold and silver items worth more than $1.4 million, per a Sussex Police report.
Alarms sounded on the premises around 10:30 p.m., alerting authorities, who arrived on the scene after the perpetrators had fled, reports BBC News. Police discovered the likely getaway car—set on fire and abandoned in a nearby town—and an empty display case that once held artifacts including a gold rosary owned by Mary Stuart, otherwise known as Mary, Queen of Scots.
As Ben Mitchell reports for the Press Association, Mary may have carried this rosary on her person as she recited her final prayers in Latin and knelt at the executioner’s block. In a grisly scene, the axman struck Mary’s neck three times before fully severing her head from her body. The House of Howard, a noble English family with ties to Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, has held the rosary in its collections at Arundel ever since.
“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,” say authorities in the statement.
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