Thursday, June 02, 2005
Hartlepool hanging monkey legend revived
The famous legend of the Hartlepool monkey has been revived following the discovery of a mysterious bone on a beach.
A family looking for sea shells discovered what could be proof that a monkey was hanged in Hartlepool on suspicion of being a French spy.
The family made the shock discovery of what they thought was a human thigh bone on the beach at Seaton Carew. The dad, who declined to be identified, took the bone to the police station.
He said: "It just seemed to jump out at me. I thought it was old and looked human and I thought it may be something the police would want to look at."
A police surgeon confirmed fears that it could well be human and detectives were dispatched to the beach.
But the next day a pathologist at the University Hospital of North Tees confirmed the bone was definitely not human - and was more likely to be from a large monkey or gorilla.
The monkey-hanging legend is the most famous story connected with Hartlepool. During the Napoleonic Wars of 1793 to 1815, when there were fears of French spies and infiltrators, a ship was wrecked off the Hartlepool coast.
Hartlepool fishermen found among the wreckage the ship's pet monkey. Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman or a monkey looked like, they came to the conclusion that it was a French spy and it was then, according to the story, hanged on the beach.
Detective Sergeant Matt Mason, who became the first officer to investigate the monkey bone, has had wisecracks from colleagues.
A gorilla with one leg and a crutch has been drawn on the wall and comments such as "Which one's the monkey?" have been bandied around.
Posted by C. at 9:37 AM