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Paviland Cave

Cave / Rock Shelter


Campaign to bring 'Red Lady' back to Wales

"The chairman of Swansea's tourism association is backing an campaign to secure the return to Wales of the Red Lady of Paviland. The remains have been on show for decades at the Oxford University Natural History Museum.

Earlier this year, Swansea councillor Ioan Richard began a campaign to have the Red Lady returned to Wales. Now, Geoff Haden, chairman of Tourism Swansea, wants to step up the pressure on the Oxford museum.

He said the rainy summer this year emphasised what a great wet weather draw the Red Lady could be. He said, "We are suggesting an interpretive visitor centre near Paviland Cave or possibly at the Gower Heritage Centre, which would be a wet weather and an all- year-round attraction. This is something we must follow up."

The Gower Society is behind the campaign to have the Red Lady returned. The bones date back to 24,000 BC, pre-dating Stonehenge by 20,000 years.

The skeleton was taken from Wales and never returned within a year of being found. Mr Richard said, "Just like the Elgin Marbles were taken from Greece this very important piece of history was taken from us by the English."

The Red Lady of Paviland was excavated by the Reverend William Buckland, who was the first Professor of Geology at Oxford University at the time. As a result the skeleton was taken to Oxford.

There is a dispute about how well the Red Lady's remains are displayed. David Laws of Oxwich, Gower, visited the exhibit and found it "in a dusty cabinet". He labelled the display "pathetic". But Professor Jim Kennedy, the director of the museum, said the Red Lady was being kept in a "beautiful, hardwood cabinet".

Museum administrator Wendy Shepherd said there was "not a chance" of bringing the remains back to South Wales. "This goes back to the days when the archaeologists who made finds had the final say on where they should be exhibited."

From the article by Robin Turner, in the Western Mail (

[Perhaps she didn't say it 'quite' like it's reported - but when I imagined Ms Shepherd snapping "not a chance" it made my blood boil. What's the point in the bones being in Oxford? Wales and England are both supposed to be part of the UK. What's wrong with 'lending' the bones for a display on the Gower?]
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th January 2005ce
Edited 4th January 2005ce

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