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What can the inscription on a grave tell us about attitudes to black people?
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Gravestone of Scipio Africanus, Bristol, (c)English Heritage. NMR/Mr Cyril N. CHapman LRPS, Ref:379142
This is the grave of a man called Scipio Africanus who was servant to the 7th Earl of Suffolk and is thought to have lived on the Blaise estate near Bristol. He died aged 18 and was was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Henbury, Bristol in 1720. The inscription below is carved into his footstone;









I WHO WAS BORN A PAGAN AND A SLAVE
NOW SWEETLY SLEEP A CHRISTIAN IN MY GRAVE
WHAT THO MY HUE WAS DARK MY SAVIOURS SIGHT
SHALL CHANGE THIS DARKNESS INTO RADIANT LIGHT
SUCH GRACE TO ME MY LORD ON EARTH HAS GIVEN
TO RECOMMEND ME TO MY LORD IN HEAVEN
WHOSE GLORIOUS SECOND COMING HERE I WAIT
WITH SAINTS AND ANGELS HIM TO CELEBRATE.


Teaching Idea

What can the inscription on this gravestone tell us about attitudes to black people?

  • Ask pupils to read through and highlight sections explaining what attitudes they reveal.
  • The inscription is written as if Scipio is speaking. Do you think these are his own words? If not who do you think may have written them? Why do you think this?
  • Ask pupils how and when they think Scipio got his name.
  • Visit the BBC Nottingham website to find out about George Africanus 
  • Visit the English Heritage Sites of Memory website to find out more about both men.
  • Were they related? If not why do they have the same surname?
  • Look at Images By Theme - Slavery to find more memorials to slaves.
  • What more can you find out about attitudes to slaves and black people from these sources?
  • Use the Images of England website's advanced search to identify memorials in your own locality that have links to slavery. You may need to search on a number of terms including; slave, slavery, abolition  sugar, tobacco, plantation. You can also enter names into the free text search.


Learning aims and Outcomes

  • To promote the use of images, objects and archive items for historical enquiry and to aid historical interpretation 
  • To support the teaching of History and Citizenship at KS3&4
  • To investigates aspects of local history and how they relate to a broader historical concept
  • To use ICT to research information about the past, to process historical data and to select, categorise, organise and present information


Prior Knowledge

    It will be helpful if students have prior knowledge of;

  • the triangular trade
  • the history of enslaved Africans in Britain (see useful websites below)


Extended Learning and Useful Links

 

 
 
Copyright: English Heritage NMR
Reference: N/A
Location: N/A Date Taken: N/A
Period: N/A
Keywords: slavery, memorial, remembrance
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