Crown Estate Asked To Return Libyan Relics

It is reported today that lawyers acting for Libya have demanded the return of ruins kept in Windsor Great Park. I was questioned about these recently and found no evidence in my research that indicates these were looted from Leptis Magna by the colourful 19th century British Consul, Colonel Hanmer Warrington.

The story is covered in chapter 3 of my book, Liberating Libya. William Smyth, captain of the survey ship HMS Aid who was later awarded a Royal Geographical Society gold medal visited the North Coast of Africa in 1817 and at Tripoli had, with the help of the consul, secured an agreement with Pasha Yusef Karamanli. He returned to London with 37 marble columns from Leptis Magna and subsequently submitted a proposal to the Admiralty, suggesting that while he charted the coastline from the ship, now renamed HMS Adventurer, a land party should survey the historical sites. That survey was led by Lieutenant Frederick Beechey exactly 200 years ago.  

Warrington served in Tripoli for 32 years from 1812 until 1834. His principle achievement was to prevent the French from becoming the dominant partner in Libya. There are several places where his diplomatic agreements might be found, but there is absoulutely no way, the Libyan rulers would have allowed him to stay for another 25 years if these marbles were stolen in 1817.

Roman Amphitheatre in Libya

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