This exhibition explores the speculations and fears surrounding fossils and zoological matter in the early to mid-nineteenth century, and considers how contemporary gaps in knowledge lent themselves to stories of myths and monsters. From James Weddell’s reported sighting of a mermaid in the South Shetland Islands in 1827 to Professor Richard Owen’s refutation of a curious beast stalking the paths between Exmouth and Teignmouth in 1855, these volumes and documents reveal a contemporary uncertainty about the unknowness of the natural world. Written at a time in which scientists such as Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace were forwarding new ideas about the evolution of life and the planet, the volumes discussed here express excitement over tantalising discoveries but also growing fears about a changing world.

Pop in any time during our opening hours to see our Myths and Monsters display until November 30th 2023.