Over the last 30 years I have visited most of the major European and Egyptian museums so you can imagine how I felt when I heard about the Wigan collection. I rang Linda at the history shop to arrange a visit and this was agreed.
On first seeing the collection to say that I was amazed would be an understatement, even though it is a small collection the artefacts are of a standard second to none, they cover the complete time line of the ancient culture, from the pre-dynastic period(Badari/Nagada) circa 3500bc to the time of the Greek and /Roman periods.
The collection starts with the small black basalt pot from the pre-dynastic period, on inspection the inside shows the ancient artisans drill marks (Stone tipped drill), this pot was made 2000years before Tutankhamun was born.
There is also a burial statue that is in superb condition with hieroglyphs that look as if they have just been done, they show the deceased praising the main Gods of Egypt so that they will protect him in the after-life. This script is being translated by two students of mine Hazel and Rachael. The main coffin parts, one of which dates to 1050 BC, were restored many years ago and some of the hieroglyphs are damaged which will make it more difficult to completely translate but the drawings are still superb and a credit to the ancient craftsman.
The main part of the collection is the gilded face mask.[only two of this standard are known]. Outside of Royalty I have never seen anything to match this, even in Cairo museum and would be a must for visitors to the town to see. There are also face masks from the Roman period one being a death mask, also of outstanding quality. The selection also includes necklace beads which possibly date to the New Kingdom period.
The Horus Egyptology Society Wigan have been invited to be involved in the project to put these on display for the people of Wigan. The collection was first acquired by Sir John Scott who was born in Leigh but worked in Egypt during the late 19th century. He was in charge of the judiciary for Lower Egypt, He left the collection to his wife who then passed it on to their son. He was the Member of Parliament for Wigan in 1950. He donated it to the people of Wigan and for this reason we feel strongly that it should never leave the town.
It will benefit the local schools and will certainly draw visitors to the town to view the collection. Two the worlds most eminent Egyptologists, Professor Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley have agreed to carry out any forensics on the artefact’s. They are also to be speakers at a day school on the 8th November at the D.W. Stadium – for details ring John Johnson 01253 810104 or the History Shop, Wigan.