The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

The monster list of plunder studies

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment



Colonial collections in British military museums: Of objects, materiality and sentiment
By Henrietta Lidchi and Nicole Hartwell
from Museums, Society and the Creation of Value, 2021, Routledge – £33/£120


Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum
Edited by Tim Barringer, Tom Flynn
Routledge, 1997 – £35/£105 (Limited free preview)

Dividing the spoils: Perspectives on military collections and the British empire
Edited by Henrietta Lidchi and Stuart Allan
Manchester University Press, 2020 – £25/£80 (Free preview)

Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture, and Popular Imagination in Late Victorian and Edwardian England
By Annie E. Coombes
Yale University Press, 1994. $35 (Free preview, cheaper second hand editions available online)


Legacies of Empire
The National War Museum, Edinburgh Castle
27 Nov 2020 – 29 Jan 2023
Examines the histories connected to objects brought back from colonial conflict by the military forces of the British Empire.


Baggage and Belonging: Military Collections and the British Empire, 1750 – 1900
A collaborative research partnership between the National Museums of Scotland and the National Army Museum that reappraises motivations for military collecting. It investigates cultures of collecting by members of the British armed forces while on campaign and garrison duty in Africa and India during the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Non-European collections in military culture
A series of workshops of anthropology and military history experts organised by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, held from 2013-2015, that appraised the state of research into non-European military collections.

Military Encounters – Reassessing military collecting in North America and Tibet
Researcher Rosanna Nicolson surveyed military collections from two British campaigns that bookend the period of high imperialism: the Seven Years’ War in North America (1754-63) and the Younghusband Mission to Tibet (1903-04). British Academy/Leverhulme Trust project – 2014.
The Museum Ethnographers Group Blog has a post on the project.



I don’t do things by halves – the incredible conservation of the James Bruce drinking horn – Part 1 :: Part 2
by Lydia Messerschmidt
A two-part article on the restoration of a drinking horn that was taken by the Scottish explorer James Bruce of Kinnaird on 21 May 1772 after the Second Battle of Sarbakusa, Ethiopia. Now in the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle. – FREE



Framing colonial war loot: The ‘captured’ spolia opima of Kunwar Singh
by Nicole M Hartwell
Journal of the History of Collections, Sept. 29, 2021– FREE

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