Thursday, March 17, 2011

elephants among us

Another interesting example of human/animal relationships:

Archaeologists are to dig up the garden of a Ceredigion pub in the search for a legendary Victorian circus elephant.

The Tregaron Elephant has long had its place in local folklore - a beast that died while on tour rumoured to be buried behind the town's Talbot Hotel....
The elephant was said to have fallen ill after drinking contaminated water in the town in 1848.

Dr Jemma Bezant of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology is heading it up. She said: "This story belongs to the community of Tregaron and the project will involve local people in gathering local evidence and histories as well as providing the opportunity to engage in some pilot archaeological excavation.

John Watkin, part-owner of The Talbot, said the legend was "very important" to local people....Local poet Iorwerth Glyndwr is said to have written an "englyn" - a short Welsh poem - on the death, which read: "Oh vain man, neither you nor I can avoid death. The grave is the end of us all."

I'm most interested in the relationship people in Ceredigion had with the elephant after it died. It's celebrated in local history (and traditional poetry), and becomes part of the identity of the town. 160 years later, they're still talking about "the time the elephant died at the hotel."

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