Mummy worship sweeping Britain

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The female visitor brooked no opposition as she chanted before a display case of dusty Egyptian death masks, explaining: "They're possessed by trapped ancient spirits. I must release them."

It was only when staff at the Egypt Centre in Swansea explained that these particular demonised artefacts were the modern creations of local students that the freelance exorcist made her excuses and left.

The episode is just one in a Pharaonic plague of mummy worship that is sweeping the Egyptian sections of the nation's museums, as the obsessed, haunted and hexed prostrate themselves in the aisles. Bearing testimony to an enduring fascination with Egyptology, workers in the Egypt Centre at the University of Wales are being offered training on how to deal with their more eccentric visitors.

But just what is attracting the cultists to South Wales and central London is unclear. Such is the extent of the activity that fear of a new mummy's curse is even rife among museum warders. Some temporary staff at Swansea have been so frightened that they have actually left their jobs.