From the Revd Dr Nicholas Cranfield
Sir, - Bishops, I am sure, are quite allowed to express their
opinions about the Elgin Marbles and the part played by the British
Museum Trustees as guardians of the world's heritage.
Elsewhere in print I have expressed much the same concerns as
the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe (Letters, 20
March), although he should be aware that an appeal to members
of the Church of England from an address in Brussels might occasion
a somewhat mixed response.
The Bishop is in a unique position to take on other curators
within his jurisdiction. A word with the Holy Father might lead the
Vatican to surrender its holdings of the Parthenon marbles, while
the National Museum in Copenhagen and the Louvre might also be
Thirty years ago, when a close friend completed his doctorate at
Würzburg University, I recall seeing the marbles in that university
collection after his graduation; there are other sculptural
fragments of the Parthenon in Munich and Vienna.
That done, the Bishop might lend his voice to the locally
impoverished Cretan community of Ierapetra, and support the cause
championed by Nikos Papadakis from 1985, the return of the "Elgin
marbles of Ierapetra".
The exiled archaeological treasures from that southernmost city
in the diocese in Europe include two sarcophagi in the British
Museum (nos. 2296 and 2324), a treaty signed in the second century
BC between the Hierapytnians and the city of Priansos, now in
Oxford, and much else besides.
Sadly, the illegal exportation of antiquities and of works of
art is only now steadily gaining international recognition for what
it is - theft.
Nicholas W. S. Cranfield
All Saints' Vicarage, 10 Duke Humphrey Road, London