KUCHING: The site of a historic stone monument in Pa Lungan, Bario, has been restored by the Museum Department in cooperation with the local community.
Known as Batu Ritong, the monument consists of four stone slabs measuring about 2.9m high, 2.3m wide and 0.5m in thickness.
“This is an ancient tomb of a Kelabit aristocrat and is nearly 200 years old,” state museum director Ipoi Datan said.
It was excavated by former Sarawak Museum curator Tom Harrisson in 1962 and gazetted as a historic monument under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993.
Ipoi said the conservation project involved putting up a fence at the site as well as an information board about the monument.
“The aim was to protect the monument from toppling. Through this project, we hoped to raise awareness on the importance of conserving historical sites.
“We were also able to foster good relations with the local community, who were happy about our role in helping to preserve their heritage,” he said.
Museum staff and villagers worked together on the fencing, which was put up at a distance of 10m from the monument. The project was completed on April 18.
In addition, Ipoi said the museum recently completed the renovation of Fort Margherita here with Federal funding of RM1.8mil under the National Heritage Department.
He said the fort, with a small exhibition inside, was now open to the public.
“We plan to put up a Brooke Gallery in the fort and hope this will be in place by the end of the year,” he added.
The museum is working with the British-based Brooke Heritage Trust on the gallery, which will display artefacts from the Brooke family who ruled Sarawak from 1841 to 1941.