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Wednesday, 8 December, 1999, 17:49 GMT
'Priceless' spear stolen from museum
Livingstone Centre The David Livingstone Centre where the spear was on display


A Zulu spear collected by Dr David Livingstone during his explorations in Africa has been stolen from a museum display.

The 19th century "stabbing spear" was taken from the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, at some point between Thursday, 2 December and Sunday, 5 December.

Police and museum bosses are appealing to the public for help to recover the historic 150-year-old spear.

David Livingstone Dr Livingstone
The artefact has been kept at the centre in Blantyre, the birthplace of Dr Livingstone, for 70 years. He collected it during his travels in Africa in the mid-1800s.

Marion Reid, retail manager at the centre, said: "We're very upset about what's happened and we just hope we can get the spear back.

"It's terrible to think that someone should desecrate the museum like this.

"The spear is a unique item which Dr Livingstone brought back from Africa and, as such, is priceless."

No break-in

Ms Reid revealed that the spear had been lifted from a wall during museum opening hours.

She said: "It wasn't taken by someone who broke in but by someone who simply reached up and took it. It was quite high up, above eye-level, but it could be reached."

The spear is described as about four feet long with a metal tip covering half its length.

It is decorated with green, blue and turquoise beads laid in a geometric design and has an animal tail attached at its top end.

Constable Philip Birnie said: "David Livingstone is one of Scotland's most famous sons.

"It is vitally important that the spear be returned to the David Livingstone Centre so that it can be admired by the people of Lanarkshire and by the many visitors to the museum from all over the world."

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