Auction house to remove human skull from sale after outcry from history experts

The human remains are set to be withdrawn from sale after an outcry from history experts (Julien Behal/PA) (PA Archive)

An auction house’s decision to remove a human skull and thigh bone from sale after an outcry from history experts has been welcomed.

Old medical items are listed in the Militaria, Domestic & Rural Bygones sale at Taylor’s Auction Rooms in Montrose, Angus on May 5.

But after the sale was castigated by history experts, Dr Simon Gilmour, director of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, describing it as “unethical”, the auction house said it withdraw them from sale.

Jonathan Taylor, Auction House Manager, said: “Although the sale is legal and auctioned across the UK, the affected lots have been removed from the auction.”

It seems like once he hits a certain age all of a sudden everyone is fair and that worries us and we don’t know why that would be the case.

Dr Simon Gilmour

Dr Gilmour said he was ‘very grateful’ to the auction house for agreeing to stop the sale, and added: ‘We are hoping that maybe they can join us in making so that this does not happen again in Scotland”.

The skull and thigh bone were listed with a composite model of human hip bone, which the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland also objected to. The model was priced between £20 and £40.

It is legal to sell these items under the Human Remains Tissue Act, which allows the sale of historic items across the UK, but the sale of newer material is prohibited.

“There’s already an ethical principle in place there because it suggests that new things, from an ethical perspective, can’t be bought and sold,” Dr. Gilmour said.

“But it seems like once he hits a certain age everybody just kind of goes through it all of a sudden and that’s a concern for us and we don’t know why that would be the case.”

Dr Gilmour added: ‘We would like auctioneers across Scotland to voluntarily refuse to accept human remains being bought and sold through their auction houses and we very much enjoy working with any interested person to see if we can fill this gap in the law. ”

Human remains aren’t just being sold in Scotland, he said, but “it’s happening all over the UK and around the world, human remains are being trafficked like this “.

“It’s not unusual but in Scotland, certainly, we’ve only had a few cases in the last two or three years,” he said.

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