AVEBURY REBURIAL REQUEST: THE HUMAN REMAINS WILL STAY IN AVEBURY MUSEUMThis is excellent news, and a victory for common sense. Many thanks and well done to all the members of Pagans for Archaeology who responded to the consultation. And congratulations to the National Trust and English Heritage for not bowing to pressure from a tiny minority of Pagans, who represent an even smaller minority of the general public.
After consideration of evidence and extensive consultation, English Heritage have decided that the prehistoric human remains in the Alexander Keiller Museum, Avebury, should be kept in the museum for the benefit of public access and understanding.
These Neolithic human remains were excavated in the Avebury area by Alexander Keiller between 1929 and 1935. In 2006, Paul Davies of the Council of British Druid Orders requested their reburial. English Heritage and the National Trust followed the recently-published DCMS process in considering this request, and went out to public consultation in 2009 on a draft report which set out the evidence and different options.
English Heritage and the National Trust have now published a report on the results of this consultation, and a second report on the results of a public opinion survey. Our summary report concludes that the request should be refused for four main reasons:
- the benefit to future understanding likely to result from not reburying the remains far outweighs the harm likely to result from not reburying them;
- it does not meet the criteria set out by the DCMS for considering such requests;
- not reburying the remains is the more reversible option;
- the public generally support the retention of prehistoric human remains in museums, and their inclusion in museum displays to increase understanding.
Keeping remains in museums is not "disrespectful" - it is a way of making the real story of the individual and their community known and honoured in the present.