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Three dimensional copy of Norfolk’s mammoth could be heading home

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 August 2017 | UPDATED: 07:04 13 August 2017

Margaret Hems pictured on the dig at West Runton beach, the site where she found the West Runton Mammoth bone in 1990. Picture: submitted

Margaret Hems pictured on the dig at West Runton beach, the site where she found the West Runton Mammoth bone in 1990. Picture: submitted

Archant Norfolk 2014

A 3D scale model copy of the West Runton Mammoth - one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made in Norfolk - could be heading home to where the remarkable skeleton was found.

West Runton beach, the place where the West Runton Mammoth bone was found in 1990. Picture: ANTONY KELLY West Runton beach, the place where the West Runton Mammoth bone was found in 1990. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

One of the prehistoric elephant’s bones was found on the West Runton beach in 1990 by villagers Margaret and Harold Hems.

A subsequent excavation by Norfolk Museums and Archaeological Service revealed the oldest near complete elephant skeleton to have been found in the UK.

Some of the bones of the mammoth, which would have lived between 600,000 to 700,000 years ago are on display in Norwich Castle Museum and Cromer Museum.

But the majority of the skeleton is too fragile for display and is kept in storage at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

An illustration of the West Runton Mammoth. An illustration of the West Runton Mammoth.

But, thanks to cutting edge technology, a perfect reconstruction of the mammoth, identified as a male steppe mammoth, could be heading back to north Norfolk in the future.

Dr David Waterhouse, senior curator of natural history at Norfolk Museums Service said: “What we are working on at the moment is something called photogrammetry, which is detailed photography of the skeleton, which would allow us to create a 3D model of the skeleton

“It’s something used before, with the Happisburgh Footprints, and it would enable us to exhibit the mammoth back where it was found.

“It could also give us the flexibility to display it all around the county.

Ben Garrod. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE Ben Garrod. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

“The problem we have with the skeleton itself is that it’s so fragile. To put rubber on it, which is what you do when you make casts, you have to handle it.”

The story of the mammoth, its discovery and the efforts to conserve and study it, will feature on a radio programme on Tuesday.

Bone Stories: The West Runton Mammoth will be aired on BBC Radio 4 at 1.45pm.

Part of a week-long mini series, it will be presented by Great Yarmouth-born Dr Ben Garrod, who recently presented the TV show Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur.

Dr David Waterhouse. Photo: Steve Adams Dr David Waterhouse. Photo: Steve Adams

It will also feature interviews with Dr Waterhouse, Prof Tony Stuart, who led the excavation of the mammoth in the 1990s and Mrs Hems, who uncovered the first pelvic bone protruding from the cliffs on December 13, 1990.

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