Millions of years ago, the wildlife used to be much more
varied in East Anglia, with hyenas, bears, monkeys, wild
boar, horses, bison, giant moose, rhinoceros and
elephants. The West Runton Elephant was discovered in an
area, which is known as the Cromer ridge, a belt of sand
and gravel debris stretch's from Cromer to
Holt. This ridge was made up by melting ice flows,
at the end of the last Ice Age (quaternary period) which
was about four million years ago.
At this time England was in the grip of an arctic
climate with ice sheets, several kilometers thick,
extending over most of Britain, as far south as North
London.This means that the West Runton Woolly Mammoth
had lain buried for between 600,000 and 700,000 years
under thousands of tons of rock in a cliff face.
The first bones were unearthed in December 1990, though
the actual retrieval was not launched until January
1992. First to be found were the ribs, jaw, backbone and
part of a leg. In 1995 the major excavation work took
place, to recover the rest of the skeleton.This was
carried out by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit. Some of
these bones can now be found in the Cromer Museum in
The height of the elephant when alive was estimated at
four meters weighing in at about 10 tons, which is
nearly twice the weight of a modern African elephant. It
was aged around forty years at its death.
As the dinosaurs had become extinct many millions of
years earlier, the elephants were one of the larger
beasts amongst land animals, at that time.