"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": The Poulton Elk

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

What lived in your neighborhood before your neighborhood existed? When did human beings first live on the land you think of as home? Those are the questions that make an old elk skeleton something extraordinary for reader Ant Mercer.

The Poulton Elk hails from the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston, England. It's part of an exhibition aimed at telling the story of Preston—or, rather, of the site that eventually became Preston. Here's Ant Mercer's explanation of why this elk is so meaningful:

I should point out that we don't have many exciting, ferocious and big animals naturally living in our habitats and this massive Elk stands out all the more for that. We don't have Elks in the UK anymore and, well, to this day I don't think I've seen one with it's skin on.

The Poulton Elk is a complete skeleton of a prehistoric elk that died in Lancashire around 13,000 years ago. The skeleton was found in 1970 by chance during the excavations for a house in Poulton le Fylde.

The discovery of the elk was of major importance as it had with it evidence of have been hunted by humans. Two bone points from weapons were found associated with it making the elk the earliest evidence of human habitation in this area.



  1. “during the excavations for a house in Poulton le Fylde.”

    reading that sentence it just makes me wonder what else is just laying around in the ground, just below the surface, waiting to be discovered.

  2. That moose* looks cool. With its diabolical grin and it’s pointed “nose” and “chin”, it looks like the Joker from the Batman cartoons.

    *I’m invoking my American card by insisting on calling those animals the Europeans call elk moose.

  3. I had an encounter with a moose once.  Fortunately not a close encounter, as we both moved off in opposite directions.  He was extremely large, had antlers out to here, and was uphill from me, making him seem even larger.  When he moved off, he seemed to kind of levitate away, as if his body were magically supported and his legs weren’t bearing any of the load, which I took to be an indication of his strength.  I’m sure my eyes were quite large and round, and he had my complete attention.  I refrained from saying anything about his nose.

    Also, moose droppings look like an alien brain: hemispherical, black, convoluted and glossy.

  4. Poulton-Le-Fylde is a great little town with loads of history around it (as well as a lot of pubs).

    A quick run down can be found here http://www.poulton-le-fylde-hcs.co.uk/html/body_poulton_s_history.html

  5. Lovely to see this post, Maggie!   My Father was building a house on his property in Highfurlong, Poulton when he uncovered the Elk during excavations.   Our Family donated the Elk to the Harris Museum.   I believe the Elk is currently being renovated and moved into the Lancashire Conservation Studios (a beautiful church in Preston) for this year’s Preston Guild.

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