Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kelly's skelly

"Ah, well, I suppose it has come to this," said notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly just before he was hanged in 1880 at Melbourne gaol. After sentence was carried out, his face was cast and his body was rumored to have been dissected. His remains were buried in a mass grave that was vandalized in 1929. The skull that wound up on display in the gaol has been identified as that of another prisoner, but the skeleton - uncovered again in 2009 and released the 1st of this month to be returned to the family - has been linked genetically to Kelly's descendants. His great-grandniece Ellen Hollow says, "We appeal to the person who has the skull in their possession to return it." It may be the skull that New Zealander Anna Hoffman claimed to have been given to her by a security guard 30 years ago or it may be the skull that West Australian Tom Baxter acquired (he won't say how) when the gaol display was burgled. The family hope to reunite the body with the rest of the bones, which they will bury in an unmarked, private grave. Kelly's great-grandnephew warns, "We would certainly hope that people would respect that it's not just about the myth. This is actually about the remains of a person. Wherever they're laid to rest, they are literally the grave of a person. The family is absolutely opposed to them being used as some sort of tourist attraction. That's just obscene."
(1st image, West Australian farmer Tom Baxter with what he claims is Ned Kelly's skull; 2nd image, Skeleton exhumed in 2009 and dentified as the remains of Ned Kelly (I've turned this image upside-down); 3rd image, Deathmask of Ned Kelly informally nicknamed “Dead Ned’s Head,” National Portrait Gallery of Australia; 4th image, Portrait of Ned Kelly ca. 1860, National Museum of Australia; more photos here and here, and Kelly as he was portrayed by Mick Jagger in 1970 film)
A virtual collection of skulls in the Cabinet:

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