Young fossil fan unearths mammoth find on Winterton beach
- Credit: Archant
A nine-year-old boy searching the shoreline near his home for Roman pottery was stunned to find a mammoth's tooth said to at least 750,000 years old.
Noah Laws spotted the molar amid the shingle at Winterton in near darkness following a storm.
Initially he thought it belonged to a Roman horse and was thrilled with the ancient object which he added to his collection of beachcomber finds including spent Second World War shells.
However when he presented it to leaders at his local archaeology club they were even more excited.
The partial tooth was later identified as belonging to a mammoth by Dr David Waterhouse senior curator of natural history for Norfolk Museum Service, who treated Noah to a behind the scenes tour of some of the county's collections and hailed his enthusiasm and keen eye.
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Noah's father Jason Laws, 44, said his passion for digging up the past grew after he bought him a metal detector.
Joining the The Young History and Archaeology Club, based in Great Yarmouth, had fuelled his enthusiasm with father and son enjoying regular jaunts from their home in Black Street to the beach.
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Mr Laws said: 'While at the club he had learned about a Roman salt works at Winterton Ness and was keen to go up there and hopefully find some pottery. On this particularly night it was nearly dark and there had just been a storm and they reckon that is a good time to find things.
'He spotted it on the shoreline and thought it was a Roman horse bone.
'When he was told what it really was he could hardly sleep. He was so excited about it.
'But if it wasn't for the club he would never have been looking for Roman pottery and would never have found it.'
Dr Waterhouse said the tooth belonged to either a Southern Mammoth or a Steppe Mammoth; both species lived in Norfolk up to about 750,000 years ago.
The largest near complete skeleton of a Steppe Mammoth was found at West Runton around 30 year ago and Noah's find, which measures approximately 16cm by 10cm, indicates that this was from a very large mammoth which would have stood at around four and a half metres high and weighed at least ten tonnes.
Dr Waterhouse said although the Norfolk coast threw up around 30 mammoth teeth a year they were difficult to detect and that Noah seemed to have a keen eye.
Patricia Day, who runs the young archaeology club, said Noah was 'an absolute hero' even spotting fossils in the Medieval town wall during a club heritage walk.
The Young History and Archaeology Club was set up by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeology Society, in partnership with Historic England and Norfolk Museum Service, to encourage young people from the borough to discover local history.
It has 12 members aged eight to 16 who meet monthly and enjoy a range of activities including metal detecting and flint knapping.