When Marianne Brocklehurst and Mary Booth returned from their first visit to Egypt in 1874, they arrived at their home in Wincle, Cheshire with a mummy case in tow. The original occupant of the case had been left in Egypt with its identity remaining a mystery. Marianne and Mary turned to Dr. Birch of the British Museum in an attempt to learn more about their unusual souvenir, which they had purchased during their time in Thebes. Dr. Birch, one of the most eminent Egyptologists of the time, did not disappoint, translating the inscription and informing the women that the case had belonged to ‘Shebmut’. Surprisingly, short of this exchange and the account of the acquisition of the case in Marianne’s diary, very little additional information about the object has been established since it first went on display at West Park Museum over a century ago. However, recent research has shed some more light onto what Shebmut’s life must have been like and how she fits into one of the most fascinating time periods in Egyptian history.
In the Third Intermediate Period (c.1069-664 BC) mummy cases like Shebmut’s became popular. They were made from a material called cartonnage, which is formed from linen and plaster in much the same way as papier maché is made today. Cases