A skull has been discovered, once kept in an old storeroom of an English pub, and it tells a grisly tale of the brutality of British rule in India in 1857.

In 2014, Kim Wagner, a teacher of imperial history at Queen Mary University in London, received an email from a couple stating that they owned a skull with a "sepia hue of old age." The couple went on to say that the skull was accompanied by a handwritten note, inserted in the eye socket. They said that the skull made them feel uncomfortable and they didn't know what to do with it.

Indian mutiny of 1857

On a wet November day, Dr. Wagner met with the couple and they explained how they had inherited the skull after one of their relatives took over the Lord Clyde pub in 1963 and found it in an old box in the back of a dusty storeroom, and at the time the local media were intrigued by its history.

After the initial fuss died down, the skull was stuffed back into a box and forgotten about. When the owners of the pub passed away the skull found its way to the couple.

So who did the skull belong to?

The handwritten note stated that: "It was the skull of Havaldar "Allum Bheg" 46th Regt. Bengal N. Infantry who was blown away by a gun amongst several others of his Regt. He was a principle leader in the Mutiny Of 1857 and most ruffianly of disposition."

The note went on to say that: "His party surprised and killed Dr. Graham, shooting him in his buggy by the side of his daughter. His next victim was the Rev. Mr. Hunter, a missionary..."

According to the note, Bheg went on to murder the wife and daughter of the Reverend too.

What was the uprising?

In India, in 1857, the British ruled with an iron fist. Dissent was crushed, and the local religions and customs were often ignored in favor of British global interests. The idea of fair play and decency was far from the truth in colonial India.

Native Hindu and Muslim soldiers complained that the British East India Company, one of the first global multi-nationals, was greasing their shell casings in animal fats, which was against their religious beliefs.

It triggered a rebellion that was met with brutality from the outset.

The first shot was believed to have been fired on March 29, 1857, by Mangal Pandey on the outskirts of Kolkata, at a British soldier. This act triggered a wave of rebellion against the colonial power that swept across India.

Execution

Bheg's rough justice was meted out by strapping him to a loaded cannon and firing.

This was the same treatment given to several of the mutineers in retaliation for the uprising.

It seems that Bheg's head was claimed as a trophy of victory by the author of the letter, Captain (AR) Costello. 7th Dragoon Guards. He was present at the execution and gathered the head to take home. After the uprising, Captain Costello gave up his commission and returned home, docking at Southampton.

Dr. Wagner has little to go on when trying to discover more about Allum Bheg. The archives are non-existent when it came to native soldiers. Records were simply not kept.

Dr. Wagner does hope that the skull can be repatriated. He hopes that it will find a peaceful resting place and not be put on display in a glass box.

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