Join AFROMET | Return Treasure | Sign Petition
AFROMET - The Association for the Return of The Maqdala Ethiopian TreasuresDetail from the amulet of Emperor Tewodros
 Home | The History | The Treasure | News & Events | About Us
the treasure
John Irving's loot

Ensign John Beaufin Irving, of the 4th King’s Own regiment, reportedly broke into Maqdala single-handedly on the eve of the final battle. According to regimental accounts, he emerged with "some sacred vessels and a manuscript". Apparently his family still has "various trophies of the campaign".

According to The King’s Own: The Story of a Royal Regiment, Volume II 1814-1914:

After breakfast on April 11th, the first food they had had since the Thursday evening, parties were sent out to search for the wounded. It was then discovered that Ensign John Beaufin Irving, having heard that the original manuscript of the Gospels was preserved in the cathedral at Magdala, had in the darkness of the previous night crawled out of the camp towards the fortress. He was 6 feet 6 inches in height and without difficulty climbed the wall of the citadel, discovered the church, and carried off some sacred vessels and a manuscript in his knapsack. After he had dispatched his trophies by post to England, the escapade was discovered and reported to the Commander-in-Chief, who was so much enraged that he sent Ensign Irving back to base with a dispatch, intending thereby to ensure his absence from the assault upon the town which was to take place the next day.

The Irving family tradition related that Ensign Irving, ‘shrewdly guessing that the General would forget to order his retention at the base’ and sending a galloper ahead to order fresh horses at each stage, set off down the new military road, delivered the dispatch, obtained a receipt and a reply, and on fresh horses galloped back to Magdala, where he arrived in time to set out with the Battalion at 8am on the morning of Monday, April 13th. This story cannot be true for no man could have galloped from Magdala to Senafe and back in less than two days and nights. Possibly the dispatch was telegraphed from Dildi, to which place the line had been advanced. In any case various trophies of the campaign have been preserved by the Irving family, and Ensign Irving was present when the King’s Own marched on to Magdala.

Current location

treasure count:
468 items
still missing
10 items
(still counting)

search treasure
recent discoveries

Cameronians' cross
Reed shirt
Lancaster miscellaneous
Halifax miscellaneous
Throne cloth
Dundee scroll

full list of

missing treasure
returned treasure

see more

human remains
military hardware
personal effects
religious artefacts
royal regalia

current locations

The British Library
The British Museum
Duke of Wellington's Regimental Museum Halifax
Dundee University Museum
Edinburgh University Library
The John Rylands Uni Library
Lancaster Museum & Priory
National Archives of Scotland
The Schøyen Collection
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Windsor Castle

Other locations

powered by

Movable Type 2.63