Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Whale Wonder (c.NZ305915)

From J.Hodgson’s A History of Northumberland, Pt II, Vol.II of 1832:-

The mouth of the Line [Lyne] was rendered remarkable by a spermaceti whale of the species called physeter macrocephalus being killed at it on August 8, 1822. It was 61 feet long, and 37 feet 4 inches in girth. The breadth of its tail was 14 feet; of its head 10 feet 9 inches; and the space from the eyes to the nose 21 feet. The upper jaw projected 5 feet over the lower one, which had two rows of teeth, externally resembling ivory, but porous and ash-coloured within. Its height, when first thrown on shore, was 12 feet; and it produced 9 tons and 158 gallons of oil. It was claimed by the proprietors of the land on each side of the Line; but the admiralty settled the dispute between the claimants by seizing the oil, and fixing their broad arrow upon the bones, which were latterly given up to Mr Cresswell-Baker, and removed into the pleasure grounds at Cresswell, where they will be long admired as objects of rarity and vastness of size. For several days after it was killed, immense crowds of people flocked from the adjacent country, and even from great distances to see it; and its stupendous size never failed to rivet the attention of all who viewed it. Whales of this kind are natives of the Greenland seas and Davis Straits; but they are occasionally found further south.
Other sources have the poor wretch being initially wounded by being thrown against the rocks, hounded by locals trying to kill it, and being finally ‘put out of its misery’ by the local blacksmith with a makeshift harpoon.

Cresswell Hall was demolished in 1938. Not sure what happened to the whalebones.

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