West Runton Beach
Following his first tentative footsteps along West Runton Beach, last year, during an event which attracted over 700 people, the life-size articulated model of the West Runton Elephant will take a stroll again this month on Sunday August 30th.
The model built by Norfolk Aero Engineer, Jeremy Moore was the result of the vision that Suzie Lay had eight years ago following a visit to Gressenhall Museum of Norfolk Life where she was invited to take a tour of the Mammoth’s remains.
The sub-fossil bones of the elephant (referred to as an elephant because he didn’t have the woolly coat of more recent mammoths) were excavated by Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service from a layer of Cromer Forest Bed in the cliffs at West Runton between 1991 and 1995. Eighty-five per cent of the elephant’s bones were recovered and at four metres to his shoulder, experts soon realised that they were in the presence of one of the largest mammoths ever to have roamed the earth.
Apparently the elephant had suffered an injury early in life which caused him to have a limp. It is believed that at the age of 42, he slipped in the mud of a river bed and due to his injury, he couldn’t haul himself up. He died there.
The muddy riverbed was the ideal environment for the process of fossilisation to begin.
Enthralled and moved by the story of the West Runton Elephant, Suzie left the museum that day, determined to see him walk again.
Fireman, Jeremy Moore built the mammoth model using aeroplane plywood, Pine and laminated Birch in a barn at his home in Martham over the course of about four months.
Since his first outing last year, the elephant has walked at the Welborne Arts Festival and Great Yarmouth Arts Carnival Procession. He has also made cameo appearances on static display outside Cromer Museum and at the Martham Carnival.
Suzie is now looking for fitting venues to display the fully assembled model for between 6 months to a year at a time.
The elephant’s final walk this year will be at Gressenhall Museum on 13 September, where for Suzie, her mammoth adventure first began.
“I think of West Runton as the elephant’s spiritual home and Gressenhall as his resting place because at the moment, that is where his bones are stored.” She continues.
Last year, following the huge interest and affection that the model mammoth sparked, Suzie created a comic book about the elephant which tells his story to children. She has named the elephant in the comical story, Hugh Mungus and introduced other species of the time including a shrew called Shrewsbury Fines and a Hyena named Hank Hammerton-Hatchett. Copies of the Comic can be bought for £2 from the West Runton Beach Café.
The second ‘Mammoth Adventure’ and the elephant’s penultimate walk this year, will take place on West Runton Beach on Sunday August 30th between 1 – 4pm. ‘Mammoth’ refreshments will be on sale at the Beach Café and there will also be the chance to meet experts and enthusiasts and handle fossils.
Text and image supplied by Suzie Lay.