Cred: Tyne and Wear Museums and archives

A bronze Stave currently housed in Newcastle’s Hancock Museum is set to be returned to Nigeria. The Stave was seized by the British Military in 1897, from the West African Kingdom of Benin, which is now the Edo State in Southern Nigeria.

Many of the items seized by the military were sold to museums or private collectors. The stave was acquired to the region in 1951 in the Welcome Historical Medical Museums Collection which was then given to the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

The item is a bronze stave with a bird sculpture on the top. It is believed that the item was used in ceremonies as a musical instrument. It was used by striking it with a metal rod.

Tyne and Wear Museums and archives director Keith Merrin believes that it is the right thing to return the stave to Nigeria, saying “We have been researching the unclear history of the brass stave and now know for certain that it was taken violently during the Punitive Expedition of 1897,” he said.

The decision was taken following advice provided by the Aberdeen University who in October 2021 also returned a “priceless” artefact.


Aiden Mills

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