There is nothing new about entombed toads; they are well recorded in the annals of Forteana. However, this is the first time I have come across an entombed frog. So in this case study I present information that might be new to you. It was kindly provided to me a long time ago by the father of my friend Rob Wilkes. If anyone is interested in following it up further the Dean Forest Mercury may be in the Newspaper Library in Colindale, N. London.
The correspondence and articles in the Dean Forest Mercury is in the form of handwritten notes from that newspaper. The notes themselves may not be exhaustive. For a more detailed look at entombed toads the Fortean Times occasional paper Toad In the Hole is well worth looking at.
Statement of the collier who found the frog in Trafalgar Colliery on Thursday Jan 14th 1915.
“I am a butty collier working in the Twenty Inch or Smith Coal seam in the No 4 district of the Trafalger Colliery. At 4 o`clock on the morning of Thursday Jan 14th I was..work at the coal face. The seam was about 20 to 22 inches thick and the holeing which is thin, was underneath the coal. We had holed in some 15inches and was the usual custom to enable me to conveniently hole further underneath, I then stuck the pick into the coalface, about 6 inches from the floor. At the point at which I did, there was a thin line of hard black earth in which we term “mother” running along the seam.The pick, when I (?) the coal,appeared to strike through into a space. The piece of coal below the pick fell away to the ground exsposing a small cavity,out of which at the same time, a live frog fell. It was small in size and dark in colour,with a bright yellow band running down the whole of the back.It hopped about….” Ernest Giles Brain (various letters underneath).
Letter from the Secretary of the Zoological Society 27th Jan 1915: 'As a fellow of the Zoological Society in London, I have been in communication with the Secretary of that society on the subject of the frog found at the Trafalgar Colliery and brought to our notice by Sir Francis Brain.Sir Francis has expressed a wish that those competant to give an opinion would do so through your columns….. Yours faithfully W.Herbert Drummond FZS'
Dean Forest Mercury January 29th 1915. The Trafalgar Frog:
'The frog or the toad,for there is a lively discussion as to exactly what the amphibian should be known,is now dead but had it survived it would have made its way into the annals of the Forest of Dean for many years….It leapt as long as it had its freedom and it leapt to the top of the receptacle in which it was placed when it was being photographed…meantime we may state that the small cavity appears to be a little larger than the size of the frog but the shape shows a good deal of resemblance to the form of the reptile, including a pushing out portion which may have contained its head. The body in which, in what ever way it may have originated, perhaps went there a very long time ago. If this theory is correct why it should be a frog and not a being of only a remote relationship to the perfected amphibian, we will leave to the evolutionists to explain.. With just caution from the lay mind,evolution is a mighty slow process and when a frog was not a frog,well it may be difficult to exactly define and definitely determine.'
Dean Forest Mercury February 5th 1915. Shows a photograph of the lump of coal where the frog was found in and the bottle in which the frog is preserved.
Extract from letter dated February 14th 1915: 'I have in my possession a frog discovered some 20 years ago in the Starkey Seam at the Duck Colliery about 80 yards below the surface….The collier was holing by removing the solid shale over the coal seam,when in the act of doing this,he liberated the reptile which jumped out of its prison…I have always regreted that the cavity was not preserved to silence all doubt as I was not aware of the find until it was too late for this.The late Mr Arnold Thomas found a frog in an adjoining pit in the same Starkey Seam, some years before the find in the Duck Pit. Yours Faithfully Joseph Hate' (?)
The following is all that is written:
Dean Forest Mercury (page 4) 19th February 1915. More letters about Trafalgar frog (sic). Trafalgar is presumably a town or village in Gloucestershire.
Dean Forest Mercury. p.3. Feb.26th 1915. More on Trafalgar frog.
- March 5th 1915. page (?). Letter from a scientist Frank Brain and A.Trigg.
- March 26th 1915. Page 6 lower right hand corner more on Trafalgar Frog
Planet Claire-The B52s.
Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head..
Some say she`s from Mars
Or one of the seven stars
That shine after 3.30 in the morning
BUT SHE ISN`T