December 21 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
In life they roamed Suffolk 210,000 years ago – but now Ipswich’s mammoth display has attracted a new nationwide fan base.
The mammoth model at Ipswich Museum arrived in 1982 – and is one of only a few life-sized models of the ice-age creature in the country.
But these creatures did roam the area about 210,000 years ago and continued to be in the area during the Ipswich Interglacial Period about 100,000 years later.
Fossils of mammoth bones were found when Ipswich railway tunnel was dug in the 1840s, and more were found in the area in early years of the 20th century.
More mammoth fossils were dug up when Stoke High School was built in the 1970s – and a mammoth featured on the school’s badge for many years.
Mammoths were not the only ice-age creatures to have lived in the area, it is believed woolly rhinoceros and sabre-toothed tigers were also part of the East Anglian landscape in prehistoric times.
And this is set to bring the replica mammoth on show at the town’s museum in High Street a new lease of life – and a new name.
Ipswich Museum caught the eye of producers of Sara Cox’s Radio Two programme after a listener contacted the station to point out that it had a full-sized mammoth taking pride of place as visitors go into the building.
Museum boss Gordon Mole went on the programme to talk about it, and to challenge listeners to come up with a name.
Interest took off with hundreds of thousands of people reading tweets about the museum and tens of thousands e-mailing suggestions for a name – the early favourite is “Wool I Am.”
Mr Mole was delighted that the museum – and the mammoth – had attracted the nation’s attention.
He said: “We are very proud of what we have on show here. The mammoth is, of course, a life-size model. But we also have fossils of the real thing found in the area.
“It all came about because Sara asked what people could do in Yorkshire after the Tour de France had been through and they were talking about museums.
“Someone called in and said ‘In Ipswich we’ve got a mammoth in our museum’ and Sara’s producer is an Ipswich fan who remembered seeing the mammoth during a school trip and they followed it up.”
Mr Mole was not sure about the name of the mammoth at this stage: “We’re going to look at all the suggestions and it will be up to the young members of our Mini Mammoth club to decide during the summer.”
The publicity should stir up more interest in the museum, which should help to persuade the Heritage Lottery Fund that it’s application for a substantial grant is worthwhile.
He said: “It is great that there was so much interest, it shows that the museum is very important to many people.”