The Ashes urn is a truly unique sports trophy. There is simply nothing quite like it.


Imagine Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp battling it out for an urn full of melted down goal-post, or Michael Jordan lifting a shredded net above his head with the Chicago Bulls.

To the casual viewer, hoisting high a 10.5cm piece of wood filled with the ancient ashes of a cricket bail – or lady's veil, depending on which legend you follow – may feel like an anti-climax given the sacrifices made to reach that stage.

We're trained to enjoy the glittering glory of the Champions League trophy, the golden wonder of the FIFA World Cup, and US sport fans see a 1.63m, 69kg behemoth handed to the winner of the world-famous Indy 500 race, so why the hype over one pocket-sized urn?

We bring you a brief overview of early Ashes history, including the full version of the words inscribed on the side of the urn itself.

More like this has rounded up everything you need to know about The Ashes urn as the big series kicks off.

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What is the history of The Ashes urn?

In August 1882, Australia defeated England in a cricket match played at The Oval in London.

A mock obituary was printed in The Sporting Times stating:

"In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval on 29th August 1882, R.I.P. – N.B. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

English captain Ivo Bligh pledged to 'bring back the Ashes of English cricket' when his side travelled to Australia for a three-match series across 1882 and 1883. England claimed the series 2-1.

The urn was reportedly created during that particular series using a vessel that some believe may have originally been used as a perfume bottle. It is believed to contain the burnt ashes of a cricket bail used during the series.

The original urn is permanently kept at Lord's in London, while the two teams battle it out for a replica version of the hallowed item.

What do the words say on The Ashes urn?

The Ashes urn
The Ashes urn is one of the most iconic trophies in sport Getty Images

There were two labels pasted onto the original Ashes urn. The top one simply read 'The Ashes' in scrawled handwriting.

The second is a larger chunk of text, but what does it say?

It is an excerpt from the Melbourne Punch magazine from 1st February 1883 which reads:

"When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn; Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return; The welkin will ring loud; The great crowd will feel proud; Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn; And the rest coming home with the urn."

The names mentioned are of the England team who triumphed in 1883. These same words remain attached to the replica version of the urn that the current England and Australia teams will duel over 138 years later.

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