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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 18:07 GMT
Mummies buried under restaurant
A mummy in a museum in Atlanta, Georgia
A Tamworth collector brought mummies back from Egypt
Two Egyptian mummies are buried in the foundations of a former cinema in Tamworth, a local historian claims.

John Harper, a journalist and historian from Tamworth, in Staffordshire, said Reverend William MacGregor, an amateur collector of mummies, brought the Egyptian artifacts to England in the 1930s.

Mr Harper said he was told by an acquaintance the two embalmed figures were entombed almost 70 years ago under the town's old Palace cinema, which is now a McDonald's restaurant.

Mr MacGregor, who often travelled to Egypt, brought them back to a private museum he had at his home in Bolehall Manor in Tamworth.

Mr Harper said Mr MacGregor originally had the mummies buried at the bottom of his garden, but decided to move them after they began to deteriorate.

During the 1920s and 30s there was a craze for them and people were shipping mummies over here by the boatload

John Harper Tamworth Heritage Society

"They started to deteriorate and smell dreadfully, so my great-grandfather, who was Reverend MacGregor's gardener, was given the job of burying them," Mr Harper said.

Mr Harper said he has been told that during building work for the reconstruction of the Palace in 1935, Mr MacGregor asked the site foreman if he could bury the mummies in the foundations.

Mr Harper, who is assistant editor of the Tamworth Herald and chairman of the Tamworth Heritage Society, said: "The foundations looked like the kind of burial sites he had seen in Egypt, so he asked the foreman if he would mind if he deposited a couple of his mummies in the foundations.

"We have not been able to establish the identity of the mummies. You have to remember that during the 1920s and 30s there was a craze for them and people were shipping mummies over here by the boatload."

A spokeswoman for McDonald's said: "It is something we were completely unaware of, but it is fascinating.

"We understand they are well within the foundations so an excavation is out of the question, unfortunately."

See also:

01 Apr 01 | Middle East
Egypt seeks money for mummies
10 Apr 01 | Middle East
Gilded mummies uncovered
11 Jun 99 | Middle East
Mummy cemetry discovered in Egypt
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