Egyptian mummy found buried in garden

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The Independent Online
AN AMATEUR historian investigating a convalescent home for miners has discovered that an ancient Egyptian mummy was buried in the home's garden.

The mummy was brought back to Britain in 1904 by the explorer John Wilhelm Rowntree, of the chocolate and cocoa family. Rowntree was reportedly struck by the curse that is said to blight the lives of those who disturb such remains, and he died within a year, at the age of 37.

His grieving relatives, including four children who had been terrified by the mummy's display in the family library, hastily buried it in the grounds of Low Hall at Scalby in North Yorkshire.

It lay undiscovered until Peter Aldridge, superintendent of the home, began his investigation into the history of Low Hall, now used by the National Union of Mineworkers, and appealed for information.

Jean Rowntree, 93, one of the explorer's daughters, who is now living in Kent, contacted Mr Aldridge to tell him of the mummy's existence. Unbeknown to the miners, she had already told the story of the mummy in her memoirs.

Mr Aldridge said: "She said that the mummy was the only thing in her childhood to cause her mortal fear. She never understood why her father had brought it home and displayed it in the library."

The grave has been pinpointed by Jean Rowntree as being in part of the three- quarter-acre kitchen garden and Mr Aldridge says he has seen a mysterious blue, diamond-shaped light in the garden about 10 times over the years. "Every time I went to touch the jewel, it disappeared," he said. "I never connected it with anything and my wife always believed it was a shadow, or a figment of my imagination. Now I'm not so sure."

Mr Aldridge, 64, is now keen to mark the mummy's resting place - but is not keen on digging it up. "I'm terrified that if I do, I will be struck by its curse," he said. "It's strange that Mr Rowntree died within a year of bringing it home. There's a lot to be said for not disturbing the graves of ancient Egyptians."

Lord Carnarvon, who sponsored Howard Carter's excavations in 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamun, died shortly afterwards.

The Low Hall estate, with its two houses, is valued at about pounds 6 million and was first acquired by the South Yorkshire Miners' Welfare in 1927. It later passed to the National Union of Mineworkers.

Mr Aldridge, an ex-miner, said: "If NUM president Arthur Scargill wants to give permission for the mummy to be excavated that is up to him. But I will be nowhere around if it happens. I believe in the curse of the mummy."