February 6, 2007

Pagans call for return of bones

Posted at 11:18 am in British Museum, Similar cases

British Pagan groups are arguing for the return of pagan bones in Britain’s museums. Whilst their arguments are not without merit, there are issues in that the bones have remained in the UK throughout, so arguments about them being removed from their homeland / culture do not really apply. Furthermore, I think most would argue that the connection between modern day British pagans & those whose bones are under discussion is at best tenuous.


History News
Pagans call for return of bones

Calls from pagans and druids in Britain are growing for ancient remains to be taken out of museum displays.
Pagans in Britain are calling for the return of human remains and artefacts excavated from pre-Christian graves in the UK.

Treasures from a number of countries, such as the Parthenon marbles at the British Museum, are under dispute and the Natural History Museum and Manchester Museum recently agreed to return the remains of Australian Aborigines to their place of origin.

A number of pagan groups have called for their ancestors to be given proper burials and the bones to be removed from museum displays and exhibitions, the Guardian reports.

Piotr Bienkowski, the deputy director of Manchester Museum, told the newspaper: “This is quite a big issue for museums around the country, but one that was not being discussed. Discussion had been deliberately clamped down in some circles.”

Museums are reluctant to let precious artefacts and relics go and often oppose calls for repatriation or religious protection for items in their collections, arguing that they are of cultural and historical importance for the UK.

Druids in Wiltshire are demanding that a child’s skeleton currently on display at the Avebury stone circle museum and their request to the Alexander Keiller Museum has the support of the Council of British Druids.

A pagan ceremony and protest has taken place at the museum over the display of the skeleton, excavated in 1929, and a number of other institutions, including the British Museum, Leicester Museum, Manchester Museum and Duckworth Laboratory at Cambridge University, have all held talks with representatives of pagan groups.

This news story was first published on 5th February 2007.
© 2007 Adfero Ltd.

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