On 29 March 2019, engineers carried out some routine maintenance in the area between Chatsworth House and the River Derwent. This work involved digging up a quantity of earth to access pipework in the area.

The following day, Henry the Chatsworth Dog was being walked in this area when he began digging close to the recently disturbed ground where the engineers had been working. On closer inspection of the hole that Henry had dug, there appeared to be part of a fossil visible, just below the surface.

Steve Porter, Head of Gardens and Domain at Chatsworth, was immediately called, and his team carefully removed a small quantity of earth, exposing more of what was buried. To the utter astonishment of the team, it appeared to be part of a large skull.

At this point, we called in Oliver Jessop, our resident archaeologist, who has worked with Chatsworth for a number of years, to get his opinion. Although Oliver is not a palaeontologist, he does have some knowledge of this area of study, and his initial findings suggest that the skull may belong to one of two species of dinosaur. 

The shape and size of the fossil mean that is likely either an Allosaurus or an Albertosaurus, meaning that it dates from between 70 million and 155 million year ago.

The area has now been secured, and we are waiting for a team from the Natural History Museum in London to arrive.

We will post updates when we have them, and look forward to sharing this incredible discovery with you.

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