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No bones about it – Hills’ mammoth graveyard near Swindon is a palaeontologist’s dream

A mammoth graveyard in a quarry operated by Swindon aggregates firm Hills has continued to yield finds for palaeontologists.

Professional palaeontology firm Neo Jurassica have been working with Archaeological Research Services, leading universities, museums, and experts at the site over the summer in a phase of activity called Mammoth 2.0.

Phase 1 in 2021 was filmed by the BBC for the documentary Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard, which became a surprise Christmas TV hit at the end of that year.

New palaeolithic finds at the site include the remains of steppe mammoth tusks, a pygmy mammoth tooth, several bison vertebrae, a rib and jawbone, wild horse ribs and a partially complete tooth from a cave or brown bear.

The finds are being conserved at the Yorkshire Natural History Museum in Sheffield, which will be accessible to researchers across the UK.

By amassing a large collection of mammoth bones, experts are hoping to learn about the size and social structure of their herds and how this compares to modern elephants.

Sheffield-based Neo Jurassica director James Hogg said: “It was a true pleasure to meet Mike Hill and the team at Hills. If it wasn’t for their support and shared vision of the scientific importance of this site, this multidisciplinary systematic excavation would not have been possible.”

Peter Andrew, group director at Hills Quarry Products said: “It’s a fantastic site and it just keeps on giving. We are looking forward to next year when we will welcome more teams of experts to carry out the next part of the excavation.”

As the quarry at Cerney Wick is not accessible and is normally underwater, the excavation involved dewatering the area using water pumps. Upon completion of the current investigation, the area was restored as a temporary lake.

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