A mythical relic dubbed 'the Welsh Holy Grail' that was stolen by burglars last year has been recovered by police.
The Nanteos Cup, a wooden chalice said to have been used by Jesus at the last supper, was handed to officers by an intermediary at a pre-arranged meeting “on neutral ground”.
In a case redolent of a so-so prime-time crime drama, the 10cm-high cup was stolen from a home in Weston Under Penyard near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, in July last year. It is understood that it had been on loan to a sick elderly woman on account of its supposed healing power. She was in hospital when the thieves struck and police think the theft was planned.
The owners of the relic, now reunited with the cup, offered a £1,000 reward for its safe return, while West Mercia Police matched that offer and set up a special team to investigate, before the inevitable appeal on Crimewatch.
A spokesman for the force – who cast doubt on the veracity of the holy goblet - said that the force received "several significant lines of inquiry from anonymous sources" as a result of the coverage. One such call led to the meeting, where the cup was handed over to police at a rendezvous last Friday, 19 June.
But the thieves have still not been caught, the police reward remains unpaid – and the mystery of the wooden receptacle that may or may not have touched the lips of the son of god is still unsolved.
The police spokesman said: "An anonymous source came forward after seeing the Crimewatch appeal which resulted in it being physically handed in.
“Some people may class it as the Holy Grail, but that's only speculation.
"As far as the police are concerned this is a treasured object, and we are happy to have reunited it with its rightful owners. We take the theft of any item very seriously."
Detective Inspector Martyn Barnes, the investigating officer, said: "I would like to thank everyone who helped us with our inquiries and who shared the appeal, which significantly aided us in recovering the cup.
"Following the recovery of the cup, no arrests have been made and inquiries into the theft continue. However, we are very pleased it has now been returned to its rightful owners."
Described by police as a "medieval mazer bowl, a wooden cup or chalice" the item was stored in a blue velvet bag. As no-one has been prosecuted, the police have not paid out and it is unclear whether
A 39-year-old man from Ross-on-Wye was arrested on suspicion of burglary on May 6, in connection with the investigation. However, police said it was decided to take no further action against the man.
According to experts who dated it for a TV documentary in 2004, it was made sometime during the 14th century. But, according to legend, it was used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood when he was interred in a tomb - before being taken to Britain for safe keeping - or it was used at the last supper.
It ended up in Nanteos Mansion near Aberystwyth, Wales, attracting visitors who drank from it - or even nibbled bits off the edge - believing it had healing powers.
It is not known whether the police have consulted Miss Marple, John Nettles’s character off Midsomer Murders, or a medium for advice about cracking the case.