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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Aboriginal remains to be returned
A replica of an aboriginal skull
The remains may be used for scientific research
The remains of three Aborigines are to be returned to Australia from a collection in a Liverpool museum.

The decision comes after a request from the Australian Government to return them to their country of origin.

National Museums Liverpool said the items have a strong cultural, spiritual and religious significance to aboriginal communities.

Once returned, the remains will be kept in a sacred place at the national museum in Canberra.

They may eventually be buried if returned to their original communities.

Explorers' find

All the remains were brought from Australia over half a century ago, but were only given to National Museums Liverpool by a medical museum in London just over 25 years ago.

One set was collected from Darnley Island in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea by explorers on the voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake in 1849.

Another collection of bones is believed to have originated in north Queensland.

A third skull was bought from a Liverpool academic Dr William Broad, who published works on Australian skeletal remains.

Scientific research

All may have possible value for future scientific research but they have not been displayed or studied in Liverpool.

Dr David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool, said: "The repatriation of cultural items to their countries of origin is a complex, emotive and sensitive issue.

"National Museums Liverpool takes a decision in each individual case when items are requested for repatriation.

A date for the return has yet to be fixed.

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