Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 12:50 UK

Aborigine skulls to be taken home

tralian Aborigine in traditional dress
A ritual Smoking Ceremony was conducted at the university

A delegation of Aboriginal people from Australia has arrived in Edinburgh to take home human remains.

The six skulls and a human ear bone are in collections belonging to the National Museums of Scotland and Edinburgh University.

Four members of the Ngarrindjeri people made the trip to take home their ancestor's remains.

Aboriginal people and the Australian Government have fought to repatriate remains from museum collections.

On Monday morning, the Ngarrindjeri people burned eucalyptus leaves in front of the university's McEwan Hall in a "smoking ceremony".

The ritual marked the completion of a decade-long process during which remains held in the university's collection have been returned.

'Times change'

The delegation is in Edinburgh for the handover of the last piece of human remains still held at the university - a fragment of bone from a woman's ear.

It later moved on to the Museum of Scotland to collect six human skulls, also dating back to the 19th century.

The remains were acquired by the university more than 100 years ago, when Australia was a British colony.

Dr John Scally, director of the University of Edinburgh collections, said the handover completed an important process.

"Over the past decade we have been returning human remains to the Aboriginal cultures which they came from," he added.

"Times have changed dramatically since we were given these remains, but we are very happy that through returning them we are able to build a new relationship with the indigenous people of Australia."

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