Philosophical Transactions. For the months of November and December, 1715 - Part IV.

IV. A letter of Mr. Francis Nevile to the right Reverend St. George Lord Bishop of Clogher, R.S.S. Giving an account of some large teeth lately dugg up in the North of Ireland, and by his Lordship communicated to the Royal-Society.
Belturbet, July the 29th. 1715.

My Lord,
The curiosity I here send your Lordship, is so far beyond any thing that I have had the honour to communicate to your Lordship, or that I have ever met with, that I presume your Lordship will think it fit to communicate to the Royal-Society; I have sent the draught, after the best manner I could draw it, enclosed; it is the draught of two teeth lately found within eight miles of this town at a place call'd Maghery, in part of the Bishop of Killmore's Lands, sinking the Foundation for a mill near the side of a small brook that parts the countrys of Cavan and Monoghan.
There are in all four teeth, two of a larger and two of a smaller sort, the largest is the farthest tooth in the under jaw, the other is like it and belongs to the opposite side; the lesser tooth I take to be the third or fourth tooth from it, and has its fellow: these are all that were found, and one of them in a piece of the jawbone, which fell to dirt as soon as taken out of the earth; there was part of the skull found also of a very large size and thickness, but as soon as exposed to the air that mouldered away as the jaw had done.
The account I had led me last week to the place, where I was resolved to make the nicest search I could; but the water-wall of the mill being built, and the ground all incumbered with the earth that was thrown up, I could have little opportunity of doing any thing, but to enquire of the workmen the manner of finding the teeth, and where and how they lay. There were some few pieces of bones found, but none entire, yet by those bits were found, or one might guess that they were parts of those that were of a larger size.
The place where this monster lay was this prepared, which makes me believe it had been buried, or that it had lain there since the deluge. It was about four foot under ground, with a little rising above the superficies of the earth, which was a plain under the foot of a hill, and about 30 yards from the brook or thereabout. The bed whereon it lay had been laid with fern, with that sort of rushes here call'd sprits, and with bushes intermixed. Under this was a stiff blew clay on which the teeth and bones were found. Above this was first a mixture of yellow clay and sand much of the same colour; under that a fine white sandy clay which was next to the bedd: the bedd was for the most part a foot thick, and in some places thicker, with a moisture clear through it; it lay sad and close and cut much like turse, and would divide into flakes, thicker or thinner as you would; and in every layer the seed of the rushes was as flash as if new pull'd so that it was in the height of seed-time that those bones were lay'd there. The branches of the fern, in every lay as we open'd them, were very distinguishable, as were the seeds of the rushes and the tops of boughs. The whole matter smelt very sower as it was dug, and tracing it I found it 34 foot long, and about 20 or 22 foot broad.
It will be well worth consideration what sort of a creature this might be, whether human or animal; if human, there was some reason for the interrment, and for that preparation of the bed it was laid on; if animal, it was not worth the trouble: if human, it must be larger than any giant we read of; if animal, it could be no other than an elephant, and we do not find that those creatures were ever the product of this climate. And considering how long this mus t have lain here, I do not believe the inhabitants then had any curiosity or conveniency to bring such into this kingdom; for I suppose the best of their ships could not carry one. Then if an elephant or some other beast which must have proportion to the teeth, it must have lain there ever since the flood; and if so, then the bed on which it lay must be of its own making: whence it will follow that the flood coming on him while he lay in his den, he was there drown'd, and covered with slime or mud, which since is turn'd into the substance of the earth before mention'd. I forgot to mention that there was a great many nutshells found about the bed, perhaps those might have been on the bushes which composed part of the bed.
The two large teeth are of equal weight, two pound three quarters each; the two little teeth are six ounces each; but there are some of them wafted, and some of holders that go into the jaw broken off.

I am,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most dutiful and obedient servant.
Francis Nevile.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 367).

One Response to “Philosophical Transactions. For the months of November and December, 1715 - Part IV.”

  1. [...] Remarks upon the aforesaid letter and teeth, by Thomas Molyneux, M.D. and R.S.S. physician to the state in Ireland; Address'd to his [...]

Leave a Reply