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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July, 2003, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Wrangle over returned skull
Aboriginal flag
Aborgines campaigned for the return of the skull
An Aboriginal skull once owned by a Merseyside museum sparked a wave of controversy on its return to Australia.

Aboriginal leaders were handed the head of 19th Century warrior Yagan in 1997 after it had been buried in Liverpool.

But once back in Perth, the hero's skull ended up at the centre of a wrangle over where it should be buried.

Originally brought to England as a trophy, the head was stored at Liverpool City Museum and then buried in the 1960s.

Yagan's skull was eventually exhumed from Everton Cemetery after a campaign mounted by Aboriginal elder Ken Colbung, who travelled to Liverpool to supervise its return to Australia.

Spirit freed

Despite the location of the skull being kept secret, a break-in attempt was made on the premises where the head was kept the week it arrived in Australia.

Yagan's countrymen also fell out over where the skull should be buried, with some groups wanting it buried with the warrior's body, believed to be in a grave in the Swan Valley, north of Perth, which they said would finally free his spirit.

But others said it should never have been brought back, with one elder blaming a mysterious heart attack shortly after Yagan's return on his angry spirit.

It is believed that Yagan's head has now been buried.

The exhumation of Yagan's head was stalled by the Home Office because the bodies of 21 still born babies were buried with him.

Sonar technology was eventually used to remove the head without disturbing the other graves.

Museum returns Aboriginal skulls
29 Jul 03  |  Manchester
Aborigine remains return home
05 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Aborigine remains arrive home
09 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific

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