Solving the "Curse" of the Manchester Museum's Spinning Statue - Who Forted? 'Zine

Manchester, Magnets, and Mass Transit: Solving the Mystery of the Spinning Egyptian Statue


A couple weeks ago, the media went wild after a story about a mysterious spinning statue was printed in the Manchester Evening News. What made this strange story particularly great was the inclusion of a time lapse video taken by museum staff which actually showed the ancient artifact doing 360s in its glass case. Rumors of ancient curses and supernatural activity filled imaginations (and news columns) as armchair researchers attempted to solve the bizarre case. I figured that I may as well take a crack at it as well. After all, I live nearby.

Some people go to church or mosque or synagogue in times of emotional need. I don’t. I go to the Manchester Museum. As you can imagine, I know the place better than most people, which was why when I first saw the video of the mysterious spinning statue I knew exactly where it was and in which cabinet. I certainly know the gallery better than the blogger who writes on behalf of the Museum who said it had been on the same shelf in the same place in the gallery for decades, as I know from personal disappointment that the gallery was closed for refurbishment until it reopened in November with brand new cabinets and a serious lack of mummies. Even my personal favourite, Perenbast (the first mummy I saw at the age of 4, sparking my love for the place) was gone.

However, I had always felt special in the museum, like something magical existed within its walls. I often visited the mummies like old friends so, despite my cynical ways, I found myself quietly excited that there could possibly be something paranormal to prove with all this talk of ancient curses and spinning statues. Like any good member of the Scooby Gang, I legged it down to the museum for a good old eyeball.


No motor here

The first thing I noticed about the statue, a 10-inch tall relic of a man named Neb-Senu which dates back to 1800 BC,  is that the whole object is made of serpentine – a magnetic stone – as is the one next to it. With its tapered base, a strong enough magnetic force could, in theory, pull the statue, twisting it around as it seeks its source of attraction. The gallery attendant also gave this as an option for the movement, although it seems unlikely as only one statue moves.

The shelf is made of glass, making observation of the base easy to check for the “…motor in the bottom making it turn around…” that one of the students in my class had suggested would create more tourism. Yes, I crowd sourced conspiracy theories from my 12 year old students!

There was no motor.

The shelf housings are metal pegs with rubber grommets around in contact with the shelf. Yes, grommet is a real word. One explanation could be that the grommet on the corner nearest the statue could be warped, giving more movement that the other shelves. As John Bender said in The Breakfast Club, “the world is an imperfect place.”

I wish that I could suspend my logical nature and believe one of the other theories the attendent offered – that the statuette, whose hieroglyphs demand “…bring me beer and bread” – is really just turning around looking for the nearest pub.

crackinflooringIn fact, what leads me to believe that the case of the spinning statue is due to an “imperfect place” rather than a supernatural craving for carbs, was my discovery of two important things – the ancient object’s new location, and a flaw in the building’s construction.

Since renovation, the statue has found itself in a brand new case next to an external wall which just so happens to be situated along one of the busiest bus routes in Manchester. This has already been stated in numerous news articles as the possible cause of the mysterious spinning, though the problem with this solution comes down to a question I keep hearing people ask:

“How is it moving only in daylight hours when the buses run all night?”

Well, I don’t think it has anything to do with public transit, to be honest, but we’re on the right track.

Something I noticed (that I’m actually surprised wasn’t picked up on by the media) was the huge, very noticeable crack in the museum’s parquet flooring (which is original to the building) that leads.. where else.. right to the corner of the case in which the statuette stands. All day long people are walking over this crack, resulting in a friction that runs right to the base of the display case, a friction that creates even the most microscopic vibrations that would account for the incremental movements best seen in a time lapse video.

Once the lights are out and everyone has gone home, this crack isn’t getting any foot traffic, which means no friction, thus no vibration, which equals a very calm statue in its case. The only curse here is the cursing levelled at whoever fixed the flooring.

Sadly, I think John Bender had it right.

Is it case closed on the curse of the spinning Egytian statue? I would say so, but what do you think? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, tweet us @WeirdHQ, or leave your comments below!


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  1. Red Pill Junkie

    07/07/2013 at 8:45 AM

    Nice noticing the crack on the floor 🙂

    I dunno. The thing is most people have commented that the statue ‘only’ moves during daylight when there are visitors walking near it, but yet if one looks carefully at the time-lapsed video, the statue does continue its spin momentum at night too. It’s very little, but I think it’s there & it’s not an illusion produced by the lights hitting on its surface.

    • Harley

      07/29/2013 at 3:35 PM

      I noticed it moves at night as well. Most easily spotted during the last portion of the video, when you can still see the shape of the shoulder in the moonlight. The shoulder continues to move.

  2. alanborky

    07/07/2013 at 1:42 PM

    LJ H-C surely the answer’s 1) place the moving statue elsewhere to check if it’s actually been tuned in some way by its maker to subtly rotate wowing the temple devotees [an unlikelihood given it’s never been observed moving before] 2) place a range of similar figurines on the same spot to see if they move too.

    Presumably the museum’d be happy to get in on this because punters’d be turning up in droves to see if they can notice anything.

  3. Bal

    07/08/2013 at 4:19 AM

    Hi, and sorry for my english

    I see you’re talking about the buses. A colleague talked about this mistery last week and I’ve published a comment under this article(Geg Bab):

    I don’t know if it’s the clue, but on the video, I saw the statue rotates from 6 am to 3 am, so I had a look to the buses timetables, and it matches.
    The statue rotates quite slowly, but moves a little in the night. I’m sure the statue doesn’t only rotates when the museum is opened. It can’t only be the visitors.

    I’t could be instructive to have a video with lights on all the night.

    I also noticed that the video was made just after the 1st of April… a joke ?

  4. RayG

    07/08/2013 at 7:36 AM

    Why would they WANT to move it to disprove the curse theory? If it gets more folks into the museum, then they’ll gladly let people have a look at the “cursed”, “dancing”, “wandering”, “drunken” (pick one of your choice) statue. Right up until some yobbo bangs on the shelf or case and breaks something… like the statue.

    • Bill

      07/12/2013 at 11:23 AM

      I would hope not endangering a nearly 4 millenia old artifact rates in the ‘move it’ / ‘mystery monger’ equation.

  5. Coppertop

    07/08/2013 at 7:40 AM

    All I know is that now I want the words “bring me beer and bread” engraved on my tombstone. LET ALL WORSHIP ME WITH HOPS AND BARLEY EVEN AFTER DEATH.

    • Red Pill Junkie

      07/09/2013 at 6:55 AM

      Make mine ‘tamales & Tequila’ 😛

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  7. mrG

    07/09/2013 at 8:46 PM

    If your hypothesis is true, and if the vibrations are caused by the stepping public, then wouldn’t the notoriety of the spinning result in more foot traffic which in turn would result in a faster rate of spin?

  8. Lala

    05/06/2014 at 3:56 AM

    Sometimes we don’t know that there might be some paranormal history behind that statues. And whatever it could be I just hope that the mystery could be solved sooner.

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