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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Bone 'link' to monkey spy legend
Monkey bone
The bone was found on the beach at Seaton Carew
The legend of the Hartlepool monkey is alive and kicking after a leg bone found in the sea off Seaton Carew beach was identified as that of a monkey.

It was found by a family out gathering sea shells on the beach.

Archaeologists verified the find and tests are being held to determine any possible links with the famous monkey.

Folklore says a French ship was wrecked off Hartlepool in the Napoleonic Wars. A monkey found in the water was hanged by fishermen fearing it was a spy.

The tale of the "monkey-hangers" is known across the country, although the precise details are often sketchy.

Animal remains

During the Napoleonic Wars there was fear of a French invasion.

When the French vessel crashed into the coast, the fishermen apparently questioned the monkey and held a trial.

Since they had never seen a French person, they presumed the monkey was a French spy, and passed the infamous sentence to death by hanging.

Mark Simmons, from the Museum of Hartlepool, said of the latest twist in the Hartlepool monkey saga: "A lot of animal bone gets washed up on Seaton beach.

"Up until about 2,000 years ago, the whole are was a big forest and when the coastline changed and tides came in and swallowed that area up, it covered trees, all animal remains and human occupation."

However, he urged followers of the legend not to get too carried away with the discovery.

"The bone is most likely something very old rather than Napoleonic," he said.

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