Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 23, 1912.djvu/66
Snakestones and Stone Thunderbolts.
when at Whitby. I have figured that specimen for the information of others; see fig. 2."
This fossil is now, Mr. Crick informs us, in the British Museum Collection; it is not so large as the figure in the March number of the Naturalist for 19 10. The practice of supplying heads to the Whitby ammonites was also mentioned in the Geologist for 1858, and again as late as 1885 by J. E. Taylor, who, in Our Common British Fossils and Where to Find Them, remarks that
"they are found in blue nodules, which, when broken open, reveal the coiledup ringed shell, wonderfully resembling a snake in such species as Ammonites communis, and still more wonderfully resembling one when they put a "head" on, with eyes in—as they sometimes do."
Mr. Crick also mentions another example in the British Museum that has been provided with a head, the nose being much more pointed than in Sowerby's example, and much more closely resembling the specimen figured in the Naturalist: this was added to the national collection in 1859. I am told as an interesting fact that small specimens of ammonites, set in gold, (though, I believe, without the head), are worn as pendants by the lady students of St. Hilda's College, a boarding-house at Cheltenham, which I understand is on the same foundation with a similar institution at Oxford. A curious anecdote which should not be omitted here is that the well-known Sussex geologist Gideon Mantell (1790-1858) obtained the inspiration which launched him on his geological career from an ammonite or snakestone, which as a boy he happened to see lying in the clear waters of a shallow stream that ran into the Sussex Ouse; this fact is vouched for by Lower, the Sussex historian, and I may add that ammonites in this neighbourhood are still "snakestones" in popular Sussex parlance.
We have seen that the story of the (headless) snake-