A massive discovery has been unearthed at an historical venue in Westmoreland County.
On July 21, staff at Stratford Hall announced that a Baleen whale skull had been discovered in the cliffs outside the Westmoreland plantation.
According to Stratford Hall’s Marketing and Public Relations Director Jim Schepmoes, the skull measured more than six feet long and weighed 1,000 pounds.
Schepmoes noted that the ancient relic was one of the largest intact fossils ever to be uncovered in Virginia.
The fossil is believed to be from the Miocene Era, although that information has yet to be confirmed.
The Miocene Era, which is part of the Earth’s Neogene period, lasted between 23 million and 5.3 million years ago.
The skull was originally found in late June and a team from Calvert Marine Museum regularly visited the premises since then to dig out the discovery.
Recently, the fossil was lifted off the beach near the cliffs, transported by boat to Westmoreland State Park and lifted off the dock by tractor. From there, the skull was taken by truck to the museum in Solomons, MD.
Schepmoes noted that Stratford Hall could not keep the find due to the site’s lack of both a fossil program and paleontologist.
He did, however, call the discovery “very exciting because we do have some fossils on display, but obviously this is a very large specimen and people will be able to better tell the relationship this has to other finds.”
He added that the gargantuan fossil helped to highlight Stratford Hall’s cliffs as valuable sources of information about the past, adding that the structures were once submerged undersea.
The Baleen whale skull is now at the Calvert Marine Museum on loan.
In view of the find, Schepmoes wanted to emphasize to the public that the Stratford Hall cliffs are dangerous and not for digging.
The cliffs, Schepmoes stressed, are not made of solid rock and could cave in on any person who attempts a dig at the site.
For more information about Calvert Marine Museum, visit http://calvertmarinemuseum.ticketforce.com/.
Stratford Hall Plantation is the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. The plantation is located at 483 Great House Rd., Stratford, in Westmoreland County.
For more information about Stratford Hall, call 804-493-8038, visit http://www.stratfordhall.org/ or see the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StratfordHall.