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Archaeologists discover slave handcuff on Bunce Island

Archaeologists discover slave handcuff on Bunce Island

A team of archaeologists have made an impressive discovery after conducting six weeks of excavation at the ruins of the British Slave Castle at Bunce Island, which was sponsored by the Bunce Island Coalition.

This was made known to newsmen at a press conference that was held by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs offices at Kingharman Road in Freetown.

The team leader, Professor Christopher Decorse explained that their team made an impressive discovery of intact iron shackle that served as a handcuff or ankle restraint in a test pit they dug to the side of the ancient roadway that extended from the castle’s main gate down to the old jetty where thousands of captives were put aboard the slave ships that anchored nearby.

Professor Decorse displayed artifacts that people were using in the past. He said they are very important to our history which tells us about the past, our national heritage, and identity.

He said this will be important to our cultural heritage and tourist development as people will be interested in seeing this site and the need for the country to train archaeologists as there are no local Sierra Leonean archaeologists.

Professor Decorse said Bunce Island is unique in terms of the connection it has with the United States and must be preserved.

The coordinator of the Bunce Island project, Joseph Opala said their main aim is to preserve Bunce Island, preserve the ruins, create a park and build a Museum dedicated to Bunce Island.

He said they are at the planning and investigation stages and they have made some progress.

The remains of the Bunce Island jetty where thousands of slaves began their horrific journey

Opala said Decorse’s team also dug test pits outside the ruins of the castle on the south end of Bunce Island in order to identify the places to build the jetty, visitors centre, public toilets and other facilities that the coalition wants to construct in order to create a fully modern historic park.

He disclosed that Decorse conducted his excavation in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding that the Bunce Island Coalition signed with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in July 2010.

“Following the guidelines laid out in the MOU, Decorse will leave all the artifacts he uncovered on Bunce Island with the Sierra Leone National Museum”, he said.

He said the Coalition is made up of Bunce Island United States, Sierra Leone and United Kingdom which was formed in 2007, with the goal of raising funds for the presentation of the British Slave Castle through a publicity campaign.

He said in 2010, private donors came forward with a pledge of $5 million for the preservation of the castle and the construction of a museum on its history in Freetown.

By Ibrahim Sahid Kamara

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