Nominated by: Sue Shave
I have picked the Marsworth Lion jaw because it is symbolic of our new wow factor Discover Bucks galleries due to open later in 2021. This special find will be one of the first things visitors see when they enter the new galleries, placed on a background of a 1:1 drawing of what we think a cave lion in Bucks 200,000 years ago would have looked like. I love the idea of the shock and mind-blowing experience for visitors who never realised that we had lions in this country and certainly not ones walking across the area where Market Square would have been! To effectively meet one in our galleries and get some idea of how big this animal was in real life will be awe inspiring.
The jaw shows that 200,000 years ago, Lions hunted animals in Ice Age Buckinghamshire. People normally associate the Ice Age with Mammoths and Woolly Rhinos, rather than animals found on the plains of Africa today. This jaw belonged to a Steppe Lion, an extinct species of lion, which was bigger than African Lions, standing up to 1.35m tall at the shoulder. It is possible that our lion jaw is the biggest ever found in this country. It is known that Steppe Lions were in Britain during some warm interglacial periods (along with hippos and elephants), however, this fossil dates from a much cooler interglacial period, suggesting that Steppe Lions would have also hunted Woolly Mammoths at the foot of the snow-clad Chilterns.
This exhibit will be part of Discover Bucks new galleries project and will have pride of place in the Discover Bucks Geology gallery at the start of the visitor journey. There are 4 other amazing galleries introducing early people in Bucks up to the middle ages, the last 500 years of people living in the county today and the art, landscapes and wildlife found in Bucks. Beautiful new displays and star objects from the Museum collections will be on permanent display, and the new galleries will provide opportunities for visitors to interact with some exhibits as they explore the rich diversity of life in our county.
Find out more about Bucks County Museum and their current fundraising campaign for their new galleries on their website.
The Marsworth Lion Jaw was nominated by Sue Shave, Museum Director of Bucks County Museum.