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5 of the Most Unusual Discoveries Made in Yorkshire

· Ali Turner · Yorkshire

You'd be amazing at the things that have (and can) be found in Yorkshire.

Whitby Hand of Glory

Beautiful countryside, rolling hills and petrified brains. Yorkshire’s a funny old place.

It might be famed for its natural beauty, but over the years, there have been some rather unusual discoveries in God’s Own Country. In fact, you might be surprised by the things that have been, and still can be, found here…

A pickled medieval brain discovered on the site of the new York University campus

Heslington Archaeology

Credit: James Gunn licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.

Believe it or not, a pickled medieval brain was found in a bog in Heslington in 2008. At 2,600 years old, it’s the best preserved ancient brain in the world. It was found inside a severed head – its owner was hanged and decapitated, but while his head was deposited in a ceremonial pit, his body was never found.

A dinosaur footprint on the Yorkshire coast

Dinosaurs may be long gone, but evidence of their existence lives on. In fact, the Yorkshire coast is famous for its fossils – you can see ammonites that date back 200 million years, but they’re not half as impressive as the real-life dinosaur footprints that remain in the rocks to this day. Head to Burniston Rocks in Scarborough to see if you can spot them for yourself.

A hippo skeleton underneath the streets of Leeds

The Leeds Hippo

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

A hippo is probably the last thing you’d expect to find on the streets of Leeds, but in 1984, that’s exactly what they found. When road workers were making way for Armley Gyratory, they uncovered the 130,000 year old skeleton of a hippopotamus. It was excavated, preserved and you can see it for yourself at Leeds City Museum.

A hand of glory on display for all to see

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Whitby Museum is full of intriguing exhibits but none as rare or unusual as their hand of glory. It was originally found across the border in Castleton, but now takes pride of place in their collection. Once believed to have magical powers that would open locked doors, this mummified hand is the only remaining hand of glory in Britain and thousands of people visit it every year.

A coded diary hidden in the walls of a historic house

Shibden Hall

Credit: Simon Jerram licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.

A surprising discovery, hidden behind the wall panels of the beautiful Shibden Hall, Anne Lister’s diaries have become famous. They offer a unique insight into 19th century life, covering everything from travel and mountaineering to industry and even her financial difficulties, but what makes them really interesting is her relationship with Marianna Lawton. Written in code, they tell an open and surprisingly graphic story of their time together. Her diaries have now been added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.

Cover image credit: John W Schulze licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.