Warwickshire Museum has the skeleton of a Giant Irish Deer amongst its geological collections. It is currently displayed within the geology gallery on the ground floor of the Market Hall, where it looks out onto the Market Place. This impressive skeleton was donated to the Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society during the nineteenth century and has been in our care since then.
Skeletons such as the one in our collection were commonly found in the peat bogs of central and eastern Ireland. During the nineteenth century, the skeletons were widely acquired by natural history societies, museums and stately homes. They are the remains of a type of giant deer that became extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. We think that they died out due to lack of plant food, as the climate cooled and became drier.
These amazing animals stood nearly two metres high at the shoulder and the males had an antler span of up to four metres. We think that the males used their antlers to attract mates and to frighten or even fight their rivals.
Our Giant Irish Deer now has a voice! Since June 2010 our deer has been tweeting messages about museum events and life to the world, via the social networking site Twitter. His name is ‘Oisin’ (pronounced ‘o-sheen’) and was selected by museum visitors. ‘Oisin’ is Gaelic for ‘little deer’. He can be found on Twitter @oisinthedeer.
For further information on Warwickshire’s Giant Irish Deer contact Warwickshire Museum’s Curator of Natural Sciences:
Telephone: 01926 412500