Calls to bring the West Runton mammoth home to north Norfolk

Hugh Mungus steps out on West Runton beach. Picture: PAUL DAMEN

Hugh Mungus steps out on West Runton beach. Picture: PAUL DAMEN - Credit: Archant

Fresh calls are being made for a permanent memorial to one of the greatest discoveries ever made on the north Norfolk coast.

A giant elephant, which last walked on the Norfolk coast more than 700,000 years ago, was unearthed on West Runton beach in 1990.

Nicknamed the West Runton mammoth, the skeleton, one of the most complete ever discovered, was found after coastal erosion exposed a pelvis bone.

Some of the bones are on show in the Cromer Museum and Norwich Castle Museum but the bulk of the skeleton is in storage at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, in Dereham – a 50-mile round-trip from where it was discovered.

And now, with plans to rebrand north Norfolk the Deep History Coast, local history enthusiasts are asking for it to be returned.

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Louise O'Shea, who runs West Runton Beach Cafe, said: 'We would love to see the elephant returned to the area. We get daily inquiries at the cafe regarding the elephant and the excavation site. These inquiries come from people of all ages and from all over the world.

'As there were only four of these elephants, or Steppe Mammoths, found in the world and the one found here was the most complete, this should be justification enough for it being displayed in a dedicated museum or exhibition as near as possible to the excavation site in West Runton.

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'If it is not viable to house it in West Runton, then a full-size model should be displayed near to the site.'

A full-sized plywood mammoth model attracted more than 700 people to West Runton beach in August 2014 when it was 'walked' along the sand.

And local traders believe a dedicated display could have mammoth benefits for the local tourism industry.

Ms O'Shea said: 'The impact would be nothing more than positive. The West Runton elephant was a phenomenal find of international importance; it is such a shame that it has taken over 25 years for the council to recognise its importance and relevance as a tourist attraction.'

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