Norfolk elephant burial legend may be true, survey finds

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Local legend tells of an elephant buried beneath Fair Green, Diss

A team investigating the bizarre tale of an elephant's burial in an English market town says it has moved a step nearer establishing the truth.

Local legend tells how the animal was buried beneath Fair Green in Diss, Norfolk, in the 1940s after it died while visiting with a circus.

An initial survey of the site using ground-penetrating radar has found possible evidence supporting the story.

Project leader Tim Edwards said local people would help decide the next move.

Image source, ERM CIC
Image caption,
Colin Lond was playing on the green as a boy when he saw the elephant being buried

Mr Edwards started the project after hearing the tale of the elephant's burial on the green, which had been a venue for visiting fairs and circuses for centuries.

He found reports detailing how an earlier elephant, visiting with a touring menagerie, was cremated there in the 1840s.

Mr Edwards has made a short film featuring Colin Lond, who said he witnessed the burial in about 1946 while playing on the green as a boy.

"They were hoisting this elephant into this hole, minus its trunk, and the next thing I knew they were covering this elephant with white powder, which I now realise was lime, and it was filled in," said Mr Lond.

Image source, ERM CIC
Image caption,
Elena Damian (left) surveyed part of the green using ground-penetrating radar

University of East Anglia geophysics student Elena Damian surveyed the site in July, under the supervision of Prof Jessica Johnson, and discovered subterranean patterns supporting claims of the burial.

She also found evidence of a militia camp, dating from Elizabethan times, and a cock-fighting pit.

Mr Edwards, of Eastern Region Media Community Interest Company, urged people to get in touch with their stories about the green, and said he hoped related events - possibly even a full archaeological dig - could take place.

"It would be great to develop some local interest so that perhaps the community could investigate it themselves," he said.

"Maybe they could even learn some geophysical techniques and have an elephant-themed celebration."

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