Tregaron Elephant Grave Hunted by ArchaeologistsMar 11th, 2011 | By Mari Smith | Category: Lifestyle
In the year 1848, an elephant from a traveling circus died while passing through the Welsh town of Tregaron in the county of Ceredigion, famed as the birthplace of the Welsh Robin Hood. Local lore holds that the elephant was buried behind the Talbot Hotel, a hotel that has stood since the 13th century at the center of the community (or more precisely behind it: when locals are asked, “Where is Tregaron?” they reply, “Well in front of The Talbot of course!”). D.C. Rees’ The History of Tregaron records:
An Elephant. On the 10th July 1848, ‘Batty’s Menagerie’ visited Tregaron. One of the elephants quenched its thirst at Bronmwyn, which proved fatal owing to lead poisoning. It died in the Ivy Bush stable. Its burying place was in the field at the rear of the Talbot Hotel.
However, the hotel used to include a 100-acre farm, and no one is quite sure where on the premises the beast is buried. So far, like the legendary elephant’s graveyard, its resting place remains a mystery.
That may be about to change. Next month, Dr. Jemma Bezant from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David will lead a week-long archaeological dig to locate the Tregaron Elephant’s grave. The dig is part of a project celebrating the elephant’s place in Tregaron’s local history, and is intended to contribute to research investigating the medieval history of Strata Florida’s Cistercian Abbey and the surrounding region. Bezant says, “The main aim is to engage the local community in the construction and telling of their own stories and histories.”
The dig will begin in early April as a small-scale evaluation excavation. The main goal is to determine if a large burial hole can be identified somewhere. Excavation planners are pessimistic about the chances of actually finding the elephant’s remains still intact.
“We will not dig deep enough to recover any remains. . .it’s highly unlikely that bones have survived because the soils are so acidic in this region,” a spokesman for Trinity St David said. “We are just trying to see if there could have been something large buried in the garden.”