HARROWING accounts and sketches of the East African slave trade in the mid-nineteenth century by Scots explorer David Livingstone have been published for the first time online.

The details are revealed on Livingstone Online - a project that provides access to the manuscripts of the missionary, doctor and African explorer.

The stark words and sketches that describe the horror of a 'slave grave' are published in their original format by the new Livingstone Online, adding a new page of history to the world's largest collection of in-the-field letters and diaries of the most famous nineteenth-century British explorer in Africa.

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In his field diary Livingstone writes: "This is the slave route.

"It is astonishing to see the numbers of taming sticks lying on the side of the path, taken off when the poor victim became hopeless of escape. (Here is the) spectacle of a woman tied by her neck to a tree and dead; (another) slave tied to a tree, dead and putrid, and partly eaten by the hyenas.

"Yet another slave had his or her head hanging on one side, but the cord still held the (dead) body upright. We assert the guiltiness of those who sell as well as those who buy slaves, who in great part are destroyed before they reach their destination."

Dr Adrian Wisnicki, director of Livingstone Online said: 'It is heart-breaking to read Livingstone's eye-witness accounts and to see his simple stark images of brutality and death. In his determination to reveal the true horror of the East African slave trade, he became the nineteenth-century equivalent of a modern war reporter. Undaunted by the intense heat and humidity, by the stench of rotting corpses, and by the ever-present threat of attack in this war-torn zone, he captured a harrowing vision of what we would now call 'human trafficking'."

Livingstone left one of the most important written legacies of any Victorian traveller to Africa, which was previously hidden from view in libraries and archives until the Livingstone Online project aimed to exposed them to a global audience through the internet.

Dr Isabel Bruce, chairman of the David Livingstone Trust, said: "Livingstone Online's pioneering work is making the explorer's manuscripts accessible - and available as a free global resource - for the first time since they were written in the mid-nineteenth century."

Earlier this month it was announced the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre was to be transformed into a leading heritage centre after receiving a £3.5 million lottery grant.