UK beach monkey bone revives Boney legend

3rd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, June 3 (AFP) - A bone found on a British beach has sparked renewed interest in one of the country's most curious myths - that a monkey washed ashore during the Napoleonic Wars was executed by suspicious locals for being a French spy.

LONDON, June 3 (AFP) - A bone found on a British beach has sparked renewed interest in one of the country's most curious myths - that a monkey washed ashore during the Napoleonic Wars was executed by suspicious locals for being a French spy.  

Police in Hartlepool, on the northeast coast of England, confirmed Friday that the one-foot (15 centimetre) bone found on a beach last month was not human, but came instead from a monkey or gorilla.  

The discovery has intrigued locals, given the town's curious folklore from the Anglo-French Napoleonic conflict, which lasted from 1793 to 1815.  

According to popular legend, a monkey dressed in a French uniform was washed ashore at Hartlepool and tried by local magistrates on suspicion of being a French spy.   Because it did not answer questions they presumed the animal was guilty, and it was hanged from a lamppost.  

Although the tale's authenticity is unknown, Hartlepool's football team has long used a man dressed in a monkey suit - dubbed "H'Angus" - as its mascot.  

In a bizarre twist to the story, the man who used to wear the monkey suit, Stuart Drummond, was elected Harlepool's mayor in 2002 after running for the post in the guise of H'Angus.  

Local publisher Adrian Liddell, a keen historian of the tale, said the discovery of the bone was of great interest in the town.  

"We have noticed a revival of interest in the legend following the discovery of the bone," he said.  

"It's a further addition to the legend and adds fuel to the fire that the monkey tale could be true."  

But historians say the truth could be far more prosaic, given that the area around Hartlepool was, until about 2,000 years ago, largely forest.  

"When the coastline changed and tides swallowed the area up, it covered trees, animal remains and human occupation," said Mark Simmons from the Museum of Hartlepool.  

"The bone is most likely something very old, rather than Napoleonic."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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