Calls are coming from Cornwall and Scotland for artefacts to be returned to their homeland, after a Welsh MP demanded the British Museum give back Wales’ treasures.
The Celts’ demands follow revelations the British Museum may have lost 2,000 treasures and a curator being sacked. The scandal that has already seen director Hartwig Fischer resign.
Artefacts including the Lewis Chessmen – one of the museums most treasured possessions – should also be returned, says Member of Scottish Parliament Alasdair Allan.
He told MailOnline: ‘More artefacts should be distributed out to where they originated.’
Meanwhile the leader of the Party for Cornwall said he sees no reason that Cornish treasures can’t be displayed within Cornwall.
Earlier this week MP Liz Saville-Roberts said security was no longer a good enough argument for keeping the the nearly 4,000-year-Mold Gold Cape or the Moel Hebog Shield in London.
The Lewis Chessmen date back to the late 12 to early 13 century, currently, 11 of 93 are on display at the National Museum of Scotland but the rest are kept in storage at the British Museum
Leader of the Party for Cornwall said he sees no reason that Cornish treasures such as the gold lunula (pictured) can’t be displayed within Cornwall
Gold twisted bar torc is one of the artefacts that would be returned to the Celts if their demands are met
MSP Allan, who represents the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency, was part of the campaign to bring the Lewis Chessmen back to the Isle of Lewis.
What are the Lewis Chessmen?
The Lewis Chessmen date back to the late 12 to early 13 century.
Found in 1831, on a beach at Uig, Lewis, Scotland.
Made from Walrus ivory and sperm whale tooth. Around four chess pieces were carved from one walrus tusk.
They measure between 6cm and 10cm.
A small number are currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Currently, 11 of the 93 gaming pieces found in 1831 are on display at the National Museum of Scotland. The remainder are kept at the British Museum, but are not on display according to its website.
Mr Allan said ‘some artefacts mean more in their context, for example the Lewis Chessmen’ and added that he was strongly in favour of these being brought back to Scotland.
‘The National Museum of Scotland is currently in the process of sending native American art work back to America, so it works both ways,’ he added.
Councillor Dick Cole, leader of the Party for Cornwall, has argued Cornish artefacts such as the Gold Lunula should be returned to Cornwall from the scandal-hit museum – and other treasures such as the Rillaton Cup, which is currently held in the Royal Collection in London and ancient Cornish manuscripts, should go home too.
He said: ‘It is important that we have a meaningful debate about where important treasures or documents, of great significance to Celtic nations, are housed and displayed.
‘Here in Cornwall, there is a need to build institutions, which properly reflect our nationhood. I can see no reason why Cornish treasures such as the Rillaton Cup should not be located within Cornwall in a national museum, that is properly funded by the state.
‘Given the intrinsic importance of Cornish to the identity of Cornwall, it would also be good to also see the historic copies of the Cornish language miracle plays permanently residing back in Cornwall – where they would really be appreciated by future generations of Cornish speakers.’
Member of Scottish Parliament Alasdair Allan (pictured) said artefacts such as the Lewis Chessmen are better observed in their context
Cllr Dick Cole also called for the Rillaton cup currently in the Royal Collection to be returned to Cornwall as well
Plaid Cymru Leader Liz Saville-Roberts said the argument that treasures are safer at the British Museum has been ‘severely undermined’ by the recent saga.
A spokesperson for Yes Cymru, a group campaigning for Welsh Independence, said: ‘Let’s not forget that this is the British Museum. Nominally Wales has shared ownership of every part of its collection, as do Scotland and Cornwall.
‘Of course Wales has no power or rights when it comes to influencing the fate of that collection – the curse of a country contained by the dominance and authority of its much bigger neighbour.
‘If Wales and England were independent nations then I am sure that we would quickly reach a fair and equitable agreement for Welsh antiquities to live in Wales and English ones in England.
‘I have no doubt that we could lend pieces to each other as close friends, neighbours and allies too. It’s way past time for this to become reality, for the tail of Empire to evolve into a new and fruitful relationship between vibrant and thriving independent British nations – England, Scotland, Cornwall and Wales.
‘Let’s make it happen and then we can talk antiquities as equals.’
MP Saville Roberts added: ‘The argument that the Parthenon Marbles, the Mold Gold Cape or the Moel Hebog Shield are more secure in London no longer holds water.
‘The Moel Hebog Shield is not even on display, despite the treasure being over three thousand years old.’
Museum director Hartwig Fischer has resigned conceding that responsibility for failing to act on earlier alerts by whistleblowers rests with him
A member of staff observes the Mold Gold Cape dating from 1900-1600 BC which Welsh nationalists want returned
Welsh nationalists have also demanded the return of the Moel Hebog shield which dates back to 1300-1000BC
Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville-Roberts said security is no longer a good enough argument for keeping the treasures in London
The British Museum has been rocked by scandal in recent weeks following the theft of objects
She added: ‘It is high-time we faced that the British Museum does not hold the right to these treasures and a grown up discussion is required about their repatriation.’
Greece asked for the return of the Elgin Marbles and the Chinese government’s mouthpiece tabloid demanding the ‘immediate return of all Chinese cultural relics.’
Greece’s culture minister Dr Lina Mendoni said on record that the scandal engulfing the museum ‘reinforces the permanent and just demand of our country for the definitive return’ of the Elgin Marbles.
Meanwhile Chinese tabloid Global Times, which is a mouthpiece of the communist government of the country, published an editorial blasting the UK’s ‘ugly, shameful colonial history.’
The British Museum has been contacted for comment.