Beachcombers intrigued by storm finds

PART of a mammoth's tusk? Perhaps a sabre-tooth tiger's fang - or even a rhino's horn?Walker Christopher Barber had high hopes for the strange find he found among the pebbles and seaweed on cold and windswept Felixstowe beach.

Richard Cornwell

PART of a mammoth's tusk? Perhaps a sabre-tooth tiger's fang - or even a rhino's horn?

Walker Christopher Barber had high hopes for the strange find he found among the pebbles and seaweed on cold and windswept Felixstowe beach.

But natural history experts say the tusk-shaped object is not from some prehistoric age when amazing creatures wandered Britain and the land which is now covered by the North Sea.

No, it's a sheep's horn - and it's the second domestic animal bone to have been washed up by the waves recently.

Nine-year-old John Hornsby, a pupil at Colneis Junior School in Felixstowe, found an intriguing skull on the shore near the pier which has been identified as a horse's head.

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Stormy seas are believed to be behind the finds after waves uncovered and shifted items hidden on the seabed for many years and pushed them up on to the beaches.

Mr Barber, of Maidstone Road, Felixstowe, a shift worker at Felixstowe port, was walking his dog at Landguard Point when he found the sheep's horn.

“I have been walking for years down there and never found anything. It was fascinating and looked a bit like a rhino horn or part of a tusk,” he said.

Jerry Bowdrey, senior curator of natural history at the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, said the 12-inch long grey, hollow item was a sheep's horn - possibly hundreds of years old but maybe a lot less.

“Horns are not bone and they grow a bit like our toenails and are not shed,” he said.

“This one is not fossilised. It was probably ribbed originally but the action of the sand moving over it on the seabed has made it smooth.”

Mr Bowdrey said the sheep may have fallen into the sea since sheep also used to graze on the grassy clifftops at Old Felixstowe until a century ago or its body could have been washed out of a coastal rubbish dump by erosion.

It is known that sometimes rubbish was used to make sea walls and the horn could have been taken by the sea from this.

Chris Hornsby said he and his son John were looking for washed up items on the beach to make a flotsam and jetsam collage.

John, who lives with his dad and mum Karen Swann and seven-year-old sister Rachel, was thrilled to find the skull.

“I think he was hoping it would turn out to be a crocodile skull!” said Mr Hornsby.

“It was quite an impressive find. Ipswich Museum told us it was a horse's skull but of no great antiquity. It was quite exciting all the same and John plans to use it as the centrepiece for his collage.”

Have you found something out of the ordinary in a place you wouldn't expect? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Creatures of the coast

Britain was still joined to Europe by a land bridge 10,000 years ago - and remains of many exotic animals which would have walked across to make their home here have been found in Britain.

Remains of mammoth, cave lion, bear, wolf, aurochs (extinct wild ox), rhinoceros and freshwater tortoise have been found in Ipswich.

Many people have found shark's teeth - some quite large - on Felixstowe beach.

A few years ago work on sea defences ruptured Roman middens (rubbish pits) on Felixstowe beach - leaving the shore near the old Walton Castle several inches deep in oyster shells.