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Wool-I-Am mammoth bones return to Ipswich school where they were unearthed

PUBLISHED: 16:51 03 July 2018

Stoke High School pupils Alicia Fuller, Jasmine Pead and Georgia Baltzer with the display they worked out with Colchester and Ipswich Museums Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Stoke High School pupils Alicia Fuller, Jasmine Pead and Georgia Baltzer with the display they worked out with Colchester and Ipswich Museums Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

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A famous woolly mammoth immortalised by a life-size replica at Ipswich Museum is continuing to capture the hearts of budding historians.

Georgia Baltzer, Alicia Fuller and Jasmine Pead preparing the bones ready to go on display at Stoke High School Picture: COLCHESTER AND IPSWICH MUSEUMSGeorgia Baltzer, Alicia Fuller and Jasmine Pead preparing the bones ready to go on display at Stoke High School Picture: COLCHESTER AND IPSWICH MUSEUMS

The remains of the Maidenhall Mammoth, iconically renamed Wool-I-Am during a competition, have returned to Stoke High School – Ormiston Academy where they were dug up in 1976.

The bones, believed to be 186,000 to 245,000 years old, were unearthed when the school was built. From the position they were found in, it is believed the mammoth died after becoming stuck in the mud.

The discovery inspired the design for the school logo, which is two woolly mammoth tusks going through an ‘S’.

Today, a selection of bones from Wool-I-Am – most notably a tusk – went on display in the school reception along with those from other creatures found during the excavation of the site 40 years ago including a tortoise, deer and bear.

The woolly mammoth display at Stoke High School Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLThe woolly mammoth display at Stoke High School Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The objects, which were being kept in storage, are on loan from Colchester and Ipswich Museums for three years.

Three Year 10 pupils at Stoke – Georgia Baltzer, 15, Alicia Fuller, 15, and Jasmine Pead, 14 – were picked to see the project through from beginning to end over the last six months and have been involved in selecting the bones and cleaning them up ready to take pride of place at the school.

The girls said their passion for history had been ignited by the initiative.

Georgia said: “I like looking into the history of Ipswich.”

From left, school govenor Jim Manning, Alicia Fuller, history teacher Ashley Watson, Jasmine Pead, Georgia Baltzer, Caroline Wilson from Ormiston Academies Trust, and principal Glenn Mellor Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLFrom left, school govenor Jim Manning, Alicia Fuller, history teacher Ashley Watson, Jasmine Pead, Georgia Baltzer, Caroline Wilson from Ormiston Academies Trust, and principal Glenn Mellor Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The idea sprung came from a conversation between principal Glenn Mellor and history teacher Ashley Watson. They approached museum bosses who were happy to work with the school to bring the dream to life.

Mr Watson said he hoped the display would spark further interest in the history of the school from pupils.

He added: “It makes them want to know why and it gets them thinking about the past and it makes inquisitive.”

Mr Mellor added: “When you talk to our young people history and where you live is an important factor and if you have pride in where you are from and your school and your community then you can start to have pride in yourself.”

Pupils preparing the woolly mammoth display at Stoke High School Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLPupils preparing the woolly mammoth display at Stoke High School Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s portfolio holder for museums, said: “We were very impressed with the students work on the project who all showed great interest and pride in their local heritage.

“The museums staff were delighted to work with members of the community in helping to identify suitable display objects from the stores that will now be shown in the exact location where they were found. Together they’ve made a little bit of history for Ipswich.”

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