A pair of 'Irish Elk' or Giant Deer antlers  Megaloceros giganteus

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Lot 67
A pair of 'Irish Elk' or Giant Deer antlers
Megaloceros giganteus

Sold for £ 31,312 (US$ 39,591) inc. premium

The Sporting Sale

1 May 2019, 11:00 BST

Edinburgh

A pair of 'Irish Elk' or Giant Deer antlers
Megaloceros giganteus
With 18 points and skull, (restorations), 224cm wide, 126cm deep, 87cm high (88in wide, 49 1/2in deep, 34in high)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    The Collection of the Late Sir Sidney & Lady Nolan at The Rodd

    The 'Irish Elk' or Giant Deer lived during the Pleistocene Period of the Great Ice Age (starting 2.6 million years ago and ending 11,700 years ago). Now extinct, the Irish Elk is one of the largest deer that has ever lived.

    The Giant Deer stood around 2.1mtrs tall at the shoulders, carrying antlers weighing up to 40kg and spanning upto 3.65 mtrs. Whilst called the 'Irish Elk', the species is neither exclusively Irish - or even an elk but probably related to Red or Fallow deer. While the majority of the skeletons have been found in Ireland, their habitat was vast, spreading across Europe, Africa and China. The name itself stems from the fact that most of the remains have been found in the marl underlying bog of Ireland.

    There are numerous theories regarding the extinction of the species - over-hunting by humans, as well as loss of habitat and vegetation due to climate change at the end of the last Ice Age are both cited as potential causes. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the antlers themselves became so large that they leached minerals and calcium from the animal's bones, effectively causing what we know as osteoporosis.

    These impressive antlers have long been a feature of Scottish and Irish Baronial banqueting halls. The largest known pair sold at auction measured 292cm wide, and came from Powerscourt, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow (Christie's, London, 14 June 2001, Lot 5.)
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