University of Dundee

Donation to preserve unique collection

28 Nov 2006

Teaching and research activities based on a unique collection of juvenile skeletal remains held at the University of Dundee have been boosted by a significant donation from a local trust.

The R. J. Larg Family Trust has presented £2500 to the University’s Unit of Human Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology to help preserve the Scheuer Collection and allow it to be safely developed for wider use.

The Scheuer Collection is believed to be the only active repository for juvenile skeletal remains held anywhere in the world. It consists of the remains of over 100 individuals, collected from archaeological and historical anatomical sources. The material offers significant opportunities to address areas of education and research into skeletal development that have largely been ignored in the past due to a paucity of material.

"We are delighted that the R. J. Larg Family Trust has chosen to make this generous donation, which will be extremely valuable in supporting our work to develop activities around this unique collection," said Professor Sue Black, head of the Unit of Human Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.

"The Scheuer Collection is largely used for anatomical and forensic teaching and research and it has already formed the basis for two text books with a third currently in development. It is a very eclectic mix of remains but it is irreplaceable and therefore invaluable as a resource for advancing awareness in a core activity for forensic anthropology".

Many of the remains held in the collection are extremely fragile and the more they are handled the more they are likely to suffer damage. "What we are doing now is creating a set of casts and images based on selected parts of the collection, which can then be used for teaching and research not only at Dundee but at other academic institutions. There is a fine balance to be struck between preserving the remains whilst ensuring that their value to the scientific world is not lost and we hope to be able to achieve this for this truly amazing and unique assemblage" said Professor Black.

"We want to give global access to this unique collection but ensure its long term survival and so we must adopt the role of responsible custodians."

Mr David Brand, trustee of the R. J. Larg Family Trust, said, "The R.J. Larg Family Trust has been established in the Dundee area for many years and has supported various University projects in that time. The trustees are very pleased to be able to support this extremely worthwhile initiative and the unique teaching and research benefits which will result from Professor Black’s work."