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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 13:15 GMT
Aboriginal skulls to return home
The four skulls have been at the museum for 125 years
Representatives from the Australian High Commission are in Devon to take back a collection of Aboriginal skulls held at a museum since the 1870s.

The four skulls were dug up by British explorers in South Australia and given to Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum for its ethnography collection.

In recent years the museum has taken a decision to return similar remains to their countries of origin.

The skulls have never actually been on public display.

"I can't emphasise enough how very humble we are as Aboriginal people to finally have closure."
Commissioner Rodney Dillon
Aborigines believe the spirits of their ancestors cannot rest in peace until their bones are buried in their native ground.

The Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (Faira) wants the skulls laid to rest as part of a worldwide campaign to return bones taken from graves by European collectors in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Commissioner Rodney Dillon, from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, received the remains in Exeter on Thursday on behalf of the Australian Aboriginal community.

He said: "It's very important for Aboriginal people that these remains come back.

"But it's very important for your people to understand that what's happened here is that people here have come out and said this has been wrong.

"I can't emphasise enough how very humble we are as Aboriginal people to finally have closure."

Exeter City Councillor Barry McNamara said: "I am very happy that these skulls are finally being returned back to their country of origin.

"Like many other museums up and down the country, we have for some time now been endeavouring to return human remains of non-European people back to where they came from, and will continue to do so in the future."

Wrangle over returned skull
29 Jul 03 |  Merseyside
Museum returns Aboriginal skulls
29 Jul 03 |  Manchester

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