An online resource holds records of human tissue held in more than 300 local United Kingdom museums.
Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD) has completed the first major edition of its Your Local Museum database, which brings together records of ancient human remains held in more than 300 museums. All the museums seem to be in the British Isles.
Each entry records how many ancestral remains the museum has in its collection, whether any are on display and what policies the museum may have for their care.
The resource is open for anyone to use and can be maintained by museums themselves through the HAD website, or via the organisation’s team. HAD uses the term “ancestors” rather than human remains in order to emphasise that human tissue, such as bones, skulls and cremated ash, belonged to individual people who may be ancient relatives of Britain’s modern-day population.
HAD was founded in 2004 to advocate for the respectful treatment of the bodies of the UK’s ancient dead and their related funereal artefacts, usually in the context of archaeological excavations and subsequent storage or display.
The new online database, which has been 14 years in the making, was created with the aim of understanding the scale of ancestral remains stored in British museums and allowing anyone to discover what is held at their own local museum.
In a statement the organisation said: “HAD would like to take this opportunity to thank all those museums, and their busy staff, for providing the responses that made compiling this database possible over the last 14 years. It is a credit to the museum profession that so many obviously care deeply about the ancestors in their care.”
For further details and access to the database visit HAD’s website at http://www.honour.org.uk/.