Desecration of a grave

A couple of weeks ago, the statue of Edward Colston in central Bristol was pulled down and it reminded me of a local grave – that of (possibly freed) slave Scipio Africanus, which I first learnt about at school. I couldn’t remember very much about it, so I paid it a visit to grab a photograph, and then set about a little armchair research to remind myself of the detail and/or improve on what I may have been taught at school. I then wrote about it on this blog.

The grave of Scipio Africanus at St Mary's Church, Henbury, Bristol.
The grave of Scipio Africanus at St Mary’s Church, Henbury, Bristol.

Barely a week after writing about it, I was told the grave had been vandalised, and I have since seen posts about this on a local news site and BBC news, as well as a few other places.

How vile must a person (or people) be to desecrate a grave as some kind of protest? There is a vast difference between a statue of a seventeenth century man put up in the nineteenth century, and the stones marking a grave, that would have been erected at the time of his burial by the people that buried him.

Today, I was impressed to see not only that a Just Giving fundraising page had been set up to collect money for the grave’s restoration, but also that the target had been exceeded – the original target was £1,000 and as I write this it’s at just over £3,310 including my own donation (and as I’m preparing to hit ‘publish’ on this, it’s reached £3,440).

I did in fact see a comment from a local councillor about this previously, and a little searching has turned it up on Facebook. I can’t see a way to link to the comment from the mobile version (and I can’t find the comment at all on the full version) of the site, but here it is as a screen-grab, with the person he was replying to blanked out:

Mark Weston's answer to a question about raising funds for the grave's restoration.
Mark Weston’s answer to a question about raising funds for the grave’s restoration.

“Thanks – the Council have actually responded very quickly. As its a closed churchyard the obligation falls to them to repair.
They have a professional stone mason that will be taking a look at it first thing tomorrow. The damage appears to have left the stone in two pieces so they will see if they can be repaired. I am not quite sure how that works to be honest but we will have to see.”

Despite that, however, I still made a contribution. If it’s not necessary, I hope the money can be used in some appropriate related way.

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