Amongst the fragments was this upper arm bone (humerus). We don't know who the person was or whether they had been a rioter or a bystander. The size of the bone suggests that it was a man.
The inscription on the bone tells us that a Richard Stephens presented it to Richard Smith, a surgeon at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Smith was interested in whether people who committed criminal acts shared physical characteristics. He obtained human body parts to study this and to add to the Infirmary Museum which he established. He collected the body of John Horwood, who was hanged for murder at the New Gaol, and covered a book in his skin.
We don't know who wrote the inscription onto the bone, nor who carved the head into the ball end. A debate continues in museums about how to display human remains in a respectful way.
1 Quoted in Latimer's Annals of Bristol
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: Social History
: human remains
: Humerus bone from the left arm of an adult male. A man's head has been carved out of one end of the bone and it carries an inscription relating to the Bristol Riots of 1831. The following is inscribed on the bone in ink: 'This is the arm bone of one of the Rioters who destroyed His Majestys Custom House at Bristol on Sunday evening October the 30th 1831 at 10-12 oclock pm and dug out of the ruins in October 1832.'
On Display at M Shed, Bristol People Gallery
: Monica Britton Collection: Richard Smith Junior: Smith, Doctor Richard Junior
: Bristol Riots: Bristol, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) / England, Northern Europe, Europe
: Queens Square, Custom House