Heavyweight mammoth tooth discovered in garden - but how did it get there?

Colin Boynton, Stephen and Stella Huyshe-Shires and Ann Tanner with the 5.5kilo mammoth tooth found

Colin Boynton, Stephen and Stella Huyshe-Shires and Ann Tanner with the 5.5kilo mammoth tooth found in their garden. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant

The 5.5kilo tooth will become the largest in Sidmouth Museum’s collection, but how did it come to be above ground?

The mammoth tooth up close. Picture: Clarissa Place

The mammoth tooth up close. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant

A 'mammoth' discovery weighing 5.5kilos has been found in a Sidbury garden.

Stephen and Stella Huyshe-Shires discovered the weighty mammoth tooth next to a broken terracotta pot when they moved into Magpie Cottage last November.

The couple only realised they had a piece of prehistoric history after attending the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty heritage conference at the Norman Lockyer Observatory, and contacted Sidmouth Museum.

Mrs Huyshe-Shires said the tooth, which weighs the same as 571 £1 coins, looked like a broken ornament on first inspection.

The mammoth tooth up close. Picture: Clarissa Place

The mammoth tooth up close. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant


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Mr Huyshe-Shires said: "One of the slides [at the lecture] was of a mammoth tooth and we said 'we have one of those'. What we didn't have was a sense of scale from that slide we had no idea of how big it was.

"We came down to the museum and said 'we think we have got one' and they showed us some of their collection and we thought 'these are quite small, maybe it isn't a mammoth tooth.'

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"It's quite unbelievable really. You wait 10,000 years for a mammoth tooth and then two come along together."

The new discovery weighs more than double the largest teeth in the museum's collection, which tip the scales at 2.5kilo.

The tooth tipped the scales at 5.5kilo. Picture: Clarissa Place

The tooth tipped the scales at 5.5kilo. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant

The origin of how the tooth was discovered remains a mystery and Sidmouth Museum is trying to track down when and where it was found.

Colin Boynton, assistant geologist curator from Sidmouth Museum, said another tooth was located in Sidbury during the 1970s but this was the biggest by far in the collection.

He said: "Three or four teeth have been found near the beaches or trawled up by fishermen. Mammoths go through six sets of teeth, so five changes during their lifetime and as they grind down, the new one is growing and pushing the other one out until it drops out. Each tooth is larger than the previous one, so this has to be the last one [due to the weight]."

Ann Tanner, from the museum, hoped anyone who lived or carried out work at the property could help shed light on when it was discovered to begin to build a picture of mammoths' activities in the Sid Valley.

Stephen and Stella Huyshe-Shires with the 5.5kilo mammoth tooth found in their garden. Picture: Clar

Stephen and Stella Huyshe-Shires with the 5.5kilo mammoth tooth found in their garden. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant

She added: "This is so big, the mammoth's head must have been absolutely massive. Someone must know something about it."

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