Two brothers made a historic discovery while walking on the banks of a Welsh estuary at low tide. What looked like a piece of driftwood wedged into a sand bank turned out to be the perfectly preserved horn of a Bronze Age auroch, the ancestor of modern-day cattle.
A protruding object caught the eyes of Martin and Richard Morgan, fourth generation lave net fishermen, as they were inspecting an area near the Severn Estuary off the coast of Sudbrook, South East Wales, on May 26.
“[W]e spend quite a lot of time out here keeping an eye on things, a bit of bait gathering and keeping an eye out for poachers,” Martin told Wales Online.
“We don’t usually look out for stuff in the summer time,” he continued, “but we had a bit of unusual weather last week, with high winds, so we thought we’d have a wander out there.”
The strong winds had shifted a sand bank, exposing the back end of the auroch horn to the elements. The brothers descended the bank on their hands and knees and dug the heavy 27-inch horn out of the clay with their bare hands. They quickly realized they had unearthed something incredible.
In a video posted on Facebook, Martin, 59, described the horn as “quite a magnificent specimen … Never found one before.”
“It’s quite special because it tells people that the estuary, thousands of years ago, was a place where these beasts roamed,” he continued. “They would have been hunted, and we think the last ones became extinct in the UK 3,000 years ago.”
Aurochs inhabited the land near the Severn Estuary in the Neolithic and Bronze ages when the estuary was forested, before sea levels rose.
Wild grazing aurochs were believed to have stood over 6 feet tall and were one of the largest land mammals in Europe during that period.
After the Morgan brothers posted their incredible find online, the news traveled worldwide. Archeology Professor Martin Bell from Reading University in the United Kingdom came forward to express interest in viewing the horn, once the pandemic subsided.
“It’s clearly well-preserved and an exciting find,” he told the BBC.
(Courtesy of Black rock lave net heritage fishermen)
“Aurochs have been extinct for 3,500 years so this horn is probably 5,000 to 6,000 years old,” Bell continued. “It looks like it’s from a fully grown adult and it’s clearly well preserved, so we’re hoping to go and carbon date it when I can travel again.”
A number of auroch horns have been found washed up on British beaches and river banks, according to Wales Online, including Dinas Dinlle beach in the Welsh town of Gwynedd, Bexhill beach in East Sussex, and the River Ure in Wensleydale, Yorkshire.
“If we’d gone out there the day after, or the day before, we wouldn’t have found it,” added Martin, reflecting on the brothers’ find. “We were in the right place at the right time.”
Martin is preserving the auroch horn in a barrel of water at his home, according to Gloucestershire Live. Both brothers hope their incredible find will ultimately end up in a museum.
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