05. Archaeological caves




Lifetime Achievement (virtual) Award

From the age of 6 John Blore followed his father’s footsteps; ultimately becoming an extremely knowledgeable botanist, naturalist and cave archaeologist. In 1962 he began excavating at Lynx Cave, near Llanferres and in 2012 produced his third account, a final report, on his work at the cave. His 50 years tenacious work at this one cave is likely to be a British, if not World archaeological record, and deserves to be recognised as such.

Before the local Archaeological Trusts were established in 1975, archaeological caves were under the charge of the Ministry for Public Works & Buildings. This organisation recognised John’s talents, employing him to excavate at Coygan Cave (S.Wales) to identify bones being unearthed at the site. Since then John has excavated at many Welsh caves, both north and south, and in so doing has added significantly to the archaeological record. Although ignored for the last 40 years by local Archaeological Trusts, Cadw and CCW, Johns work has been supported with assistance from professional archaeologists from universities and museums throughout the UK, including the Late Roger Jacobi, Chris Stringer, and Anthony Sutcliffe, all of the British Museum.

To quote the late Roger Jacobi: “There’s no such thing as professional or amateur archaeology…… only good or bad archaeology”.

This website recognises Johns achievement throughout this 50 year period, and the contribution he has made to cave archaeology. 

Despite being a 'Lifetime achievement award' John continues to excavate........


For more information on Lynx Cave, see under Bryn Alyn Cave No1 on this website



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Archaeological Caves


 

About 45 caves in North Wales have been identified as being of archaeological importance. Many more have been noted by cavers as having archaeological potential. Others with entrances currently obscured, remain undiscovered. 


The most important archaeological cave in north Wales is currently Pontnewydd Cave at Cefn, near St Asaph. Work at this site carried out by the National Museum of Wales from 1978, revealed hominin remains 230,000 years old. 

 

Although archaeological excavations are now rarely carried out in North Wales caves, the subject is fascinating and there are many ways in which people can become involved in cave archaeology without carrying out excavation work. A few projects are suggested at the bottom of this page.

 
 
Topic headings on this page:
  • List of north Wales archaeological caves
  • Archaeological links
  • The last 40 years - a lost opportunity?
  • Some modern excavation references
  • Suggested projects to get involved in 

 

A small sample of bones from Colomendy Cave, Loggerheads

 

 

Please bear in mind that if you unearth any bones or artifacts, have them identified before further disturbance of the cave takes place. Then seriously consider if the site would benefit from calling in the professionals. If any artifacts subsequently turn out to be of importance, write a brief report for an organisation such as the Council for British Archaeology (Wales) for inclusion in their annual publication. This should at least ensure that your information won't be plagiarised by professionals!

 

Who to contact

If you find bones or other artifacts whilst caving or digging in caves, contact the Cave Archaeology Grouphttp://cag.bcra.org.uk/

In their own words: "Should you discover unusual bones or objects of interest in caves we can offer advice on what to do next and who to contact. We should be able to put you in touch with archaeologists or other specialists who would be only too happy to advise you how to proceed when you find that elusive Palaeolithic rock art!"


 
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Recent publications (late 2012):
 

Nothing for a generation, then three final reports appear in a few months......

 
 
The important excavation work carried out at Pontnewydd Cave is now described in "Neanderthals in Wales: Pontnewydd and the Elwy Valley Caves". Although 16 years in preparation, its 363 pages describe fully the work carried out at the cave by many specialists in sedimentology, geology, petrology, taphonomy, dating etc and there's even 112 pages on teeth alone.
 
It has been calculated that the two original entrances to the cave have receeded or been eroded away by some 7-10 metres. Their geologist makes the bold claim that the cave may have been a smaller passage connected to a master cave that once occupied where the Elwy Valley now lies........ although this can only be purely conjecture.
 
Seventeen hominin teeth were found, 1,282 stone artefacts (blade points, scrapers etc) and 4,822 animal bones which include those of lion, rhinoceros, reindeer, bear and leopard (leopard is rare with only one other known from Bleadon Cave in Somerset). 
 
The hominin remains indicate that the MINIMUM number of individuals represented are an 8.5 year old (poss. male), a 9 year old (poss. female), an 11 to 11.5 year old (poss. male), a 14 to 16 year old (poss. male) and a mature adult. The MAXIMUM number represented is 16 (9 juveniles and 7 adults).
 
Most of the caves deposits are the result of (up to four) glacial debris flows, where material from nearer the original entrance has been forced under pressure deeper into the cave. Hence older deposits have been found above more recent material.
 
Hardly light reading, but there are occasionally lighter moments such as an interesting latin quote of "perigrinationes in tenebra amoris causa" (speleolgogy for the fun of it) and the rather painful statement that "Hyaenas will walk 20 metres or more from their den before voiding their coprolites" (coprolite = fossilised excrement).
 
The book provides an insight into many of the methods used and will be an important addition to the book-shelves of anyone having an interest in cave archaeology.

Reduced from £45 to £22.50 at OxbowBooks.com (in 2013)
 
 


 
 
 

Lynx Cave, Denbighshire: 50 years of Excavation 1962 - 2012

At the same time as the Pontnewydd book became available, John Blore issued his latest report on Lynx Cave to celebrate his 50th years work at the site. John can supply the report as several Word files supplied on CD or as a PDF. The 76 pages are effectively the final report on his work and are a testament to his life-long tenacity.

 

Lynx Cave itself is of rather small dimensions and the deposits were in damp ground, thus rendering it a cave that no professional archaeologist would ever consider excavating. It’s size also dictates that the favoured method of leaving untouched deposits for future work, was not possible.

 

John Blore has done an enormous service to archaeology by excavating a site that would have been ignored by professionals. In so doing, he has added significantly to the archaeological record. One wonders if any additional information could have been unearthed at the site had CPAT, CADW or CCW been willing to offer their support over the 50 years.

 

John's work at the cave has provided evidence that it was used by animals and humans for 12,000 years. It served as an occasional shelter for hunting parties, who butchered and cooked sufficient for their needs in the cave, before returning home with the bulk of their spoils. In the late Bronze Age (around 3,000 years ago) several bodies were buried in the cave, after which the entrance was sealed with a large capstone. A total of eight individuals including an infant, are represented amongst the bones. Other finds include 26 sharp stone cutting tools, three hammer-stones, a bone spear-point 11,700 years old, a shale bracelet and a bronze brooch inlaid with silver and enamel of Romano-British origin. 

 

This report is also a must-have for those interested in cave archaeology and is available direct from John Blore. Visit his website at:  http://lynxcave.webs.com/

A seven page supplement to the report is now available, published in 2013. This decribes Johns latest work at the cave.

 

 
NB   Lynx Cave is described on this website under Bryn Alyn Cave No 1 (see Caves A - B)






Archaeological Excavation at North Face Cave Little Ormes Head 1962-1976 (Updated 2012)

The original discoverer and excavator of North Face Cave (or as it was later called, Ogof Rhiwledyn) was John Blore. He has updated his 1977 privately published report and the new 49 page account is now available (from December 2012).

It describes all the remains found in the cave, the oldest being Neolithic 4,500 years old. Most interestingly, the 19 human vertebrae recovered from the cave show varying degrees of abnormal compression to the centrum with considerable wear of anterior faces. John Blore suggests this may be due to pressure from continual lifting or the carrying of heavy loads and raises the possibility that this individual could have been labouring in the nearby Bronze Age copper mine.


After 50 years of cave excavation in North Wales, John Blore is still working at several sites. He also gives fascinating and well presented slide shows on his work at Lynx Cave.

 
 
 

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List of north Wales archaeological caves 

Where ancient human or animal remains or artifacts are recorded as being found


 

See alphabetical list at top left of this page, to navigate to information on each cave

 

B.S. Pot (see under Brasgyll Cave No 3)

Barnewell Cave (see page 20. Lost or non-caves)

Big Covert Cave, Maeshafn

Bryn Euryn Quarry cave (see page 20. Lost or non-caves)

Bryngwyn Bone Cave, north of Maeshafn

Cae Gronw Cave, Cefn

Cae Gwyn Cave, Tremeirchion

Cefn Cave, Cefn

Cefn Old Cave, Cefn

Corkscrew Cave,  Llandudno
Dead Rabbit Cave, Llandudno

Ffynnon Bueno Cave, Tremeirchion

Galltfaenan Cave, Cefn

Gop Cave, Trelawnyd

Gop Farm Cave, Trelawnyd (See: Gwaenysgor Cave)

Grange Farm Cave, Holywell ? (see page 20. Lost or non-caves)

Gwaenysgor Cave, Gwaenysgor 

Kendrick's Cave, Lower, Llandudno

Kendrick's Cave, Upper, Llandudno

Llanarmon Cave, Llanarmon-yn-ial

Lloches-yr-Afr, Llandudno

Lynx Cave, Llanferres (see Bryn Alyn Cave No 1)

Maeshafn Cave (see: Big Covert Cave)

Minera Cave, Gwynfryn (see page 20. Lost or non-caves)

Murphys Pot, Alyn Gorge, Pantymwyn

Nant-y-Fuach Rock Shelter, Dyserth

Nant-y-Graig Caves, Brasgyll (see under Brasgyll Caves)

North Face Cave, Llandudno

Ogof Arth, Llandudno

Ogof Colomendy, Loggerheads

Ogof 'Corkscrew', Llandudno (see under Corkscrew Cave)

Ogof Pant-y-Wennol, Llandudno

Ogof Rhiwledyn, Llandudno (see under North Face Cave)

Ogof Tan y Bryn, Llandudno
Ogof Tudno, Llandudno

Orchid Cave, Maeshafn

Perthi Chwareu Caves (two caves) Llandegla

Plas Heaton Cave, Henllan

Pont Newydd Cave (or Bontnewydd Cave), St. Asaph
Printing Press Cave, Llandudno
Rhos Isaf Caves (three caves), Llandegla
Skeleton Cave, Llandudno
Skull Pot, Pantymwyn
Snail Cave, Llandudno

Ty Newydd Caves (two), Tremeirchion




C14 dating of bones


In 2010, only seven (less than 20%) of known North Wales archaeological caves have had radiocarbon testing carried out on bones. These caves are:

Cae Gronw Cave; Ffynnon Bueno Cave; Gop Cave; Kendrick’s Cave; Lynx Cave; Orchid Cave; Pontnewydd Cave.

(Source: Burrow, S. and Williams, S. (2008) 'The Wales and Borders radiocarbon database'. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales). It is available at: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cy/1151/

The National Museum of Wales has not updated the database since 2010 (Pers. Comm Steve Burrow NMW 2013). Bones from at least one of the Llandegla Caves have been subjected to more recent testing.


Sample of finds from Skull Pot, Alyn Gorge, Pantymwyn

 
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Archaeological links:

Please let this website know of any dead links

Mel Davies: "Notes on his contribution to cave archaeology in Wales" can be downloaded as a PDF from the very bottom of this page.
 
Ancient Arts: A Deganwy company run by David Chapman that carries out experimental archaeology: http://www.ancient-arts.org/
 
A 2010 overview of recent archaeological work in Welsh caves: http://www.archaeoleg.org.uk/pdf/reviewdocs/paleoreview.pdf
 
A new website dedicated to Lynx Cave describes John Blore's 50 years of excavation: http://lynxcave.webs.com/
 
new website for cavers interested in cave archaeology, the Cave Archaeology Group: http://cag.bcra.org.uk/
 
A new forum for the Cave Archaeology Group: http://british-caving.org.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=460
 
Details of archaeological caves of Wales on the CAPRA website:  http://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/2/wales.html#B
 
A good bibliography for archaeological cave sites is also available on the CAPRA website:  http://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/2/walesbib.html
  
Liverpool's John Moores University hosts our nearest professional cave archaeologist, Dr. Hannah O'Regan. She has been instrumental in bridging the gap between the UKs more enlightened archaeologists and the caving community: http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/NewsUpdate/index_121462.htm
 
"Cavers, Digging and Archaeological Finds in the Yorkshire Dales" (PDF file): The advantages of cave digging in furthering our knowledge of archaeological caveshttp://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/6/cavedigging.pdf

Consider joining the Council for British Archaeology (Wales):  http://www.britarch.ac.uk/cbawales/
 
Although covering south Wales, some interesting photographs of finds from caves:  http://www.swanseaheritage.net/themes/archaeology/cave.asp
 
The Megalithic Portal covers all the UK, but briefly describes arch. caves of north Wales with some good photos: http://www.megalithic.co.uk/index.php
 
Read a detailed description of Britain's first cave art identified in 2003 (a PDF file):  http://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/5/pettitt.pdf
 
Isotope analysis of bone collagen from three individuals found at Kendrick's Cave (PDF file): http://www.eva.mpg.de/evolution/staff/richards/pdf/Richards-et-al-KendricksJHE.pdf
 
An article on the 12,000 year old engraved horse jawbone from Kendrick's Cave, Llandudno: http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/wales-the-kendrick%E2%80%99s-cave-horse-jawbone/
 
An interesting introduction to Wales' ancient past:  http://www.cambria.org.uk/lostlandscapes/index.html
 
 
What cavers should keep an eye open for whilst caving: http://cag.bcra.org.uk/styled-2/index.html
 
A page on archaeology at the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust:  http://www.pengellytrust.org/museum/archaeology.htm
  
One of the best books on human remains is "Digging up Bones" by Brothwell. Copies can be bought on-line at:
 
The BCRA publication "Cave & Karst Science" has a special edition (December 2011) dedicated to cave archaeology. It is Volume 38, number 3 and can be ordered for £8 +£1 p & p or £6 as a PDF download at: http://bcra.org.uk/pub/candks/
 
The Guardian provides news (2010) from caves at Cheddar and an interesting over-view of man in Britain after the last ice age when it was rapidly re-populated within just three years:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jun/20/ice-age-cannibals-britain-earliest-settlers
 
"The Big Dig" at Gough's Cave, Cheddar is the subject of this interesting article: http://www.archaeologyuk.org/ba/ba118/feat1.shtml

Research into Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) is described here: http://www.ahobproject.org/About.php
 
A large volume is available on Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context: http://www.scribd.com/Filipe17/d/65996327-Pettitt-Et-Al-Eds-Paleolithic-Cave-Art-at-Creswell-Crags-in-European-Context  
 
The rare find of a hammerhead from 1000BC and fashioned from antler, has been found by cavers in 2011 at a cave on the Burren, County Galway: http://itsligo.ie/2012/03/26/discovery-by-it-sligo-lecturer-gives-rare-insight-into-bronze-age/

"Archaeological Potential of Cave and Fissure Deposits in Limestone" (Covering the Peak District and south Yorkshire).This important assessment was produced by archaeologists with input from the caving community and can be obtained as a free PDF here:  http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/caves_eh_2011/downloads.cfm

"Cave Breccias and Archaeological Sites", a detailed description http://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/1/breccia.html

In Scotland a group of 19 sea caves are being examined in the Rosmarkie Caves Project: http://www.spanglefish.com/RosemarkieCavesProject/index.asp?pageid=200209

Ever wanted to know the relevance of prehistoric penis art? Try this: http://io9.com/5852161/paleolithic-penises-can-tell-us-about-the-origins-of-genital-piercing-and-also-about-ourselves

For a brief understanding of cave sedimentology: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/34954/1/1004_ftp.pdf

And finally, a totally irreverant site by diggers that describes archaeology as "one of the most incestuous careers on earth": http://www.diggingthedirt.com/about/
 
 
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Other on-line sources.....


Official database 1: COFLEIN  http://www.coflein.gov.uk/  Operated by RCAHMW. The database relating to caves is both incomplete and in many cases, inaccurate. Caves such as Orchid Cave, Gwaenysgor Cave, Galltfaenan Caves, Colomendy Cave, Cae Gronw Cave etc, are not mentioned at all and many other cave descriptions appear to be long out of date. Their copyright restrictions however, appear less Draconian that those of Archwilio below....


Official database 2: ARCHWILIO http://www.archwilio.org.uk/  Operated by the four Archaeological Trusts, this database confusingly contains different information to that offered by COFLEIN although both state that they give access to the HERs (Historic Environment Records). Not only is the Archwilio information also incomplete and in places inaccurate, but before being granted access to the database, users must agree not to pass the information to any third party or use it in any publication. In fact many reports carried out by the Archaeological Trusts are kept secret from the public on grounds of Copyright. Gwynedd Archaeological Trust for example will not even provide the public with a list of their report titles. Oddly, even this website and John Blores reports are wrongly claimed to be the copyright of CPAT...... see Archwilio Primary Ref 120881 for Lynx Cave

Some time ago, it was hoped that the two databases would be combined, but the idea could not be followed through (Pers Comm RCAHMW 2013).


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The last 40 years  -  A lost opportunity?

 

The organisations

Four Archaeological Trusts, all limited companies, were established in 1975 to protect the archaeology of Wales, including archaeological caves. The two covering North Wales are Gwynedd Archaeological Trust (GAT) and Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT). Much of the Trusts funding comes from Cadw and the RCAHMW. The CCW, now NRW (Natural Resources Wales) also have an interest in protecting caves, although their attention appears to be focused on protecting large cave systems by the creation of Geological SSSIs.

 

Patchy documentary record

When the Trusts were established in 1975, they inherited a documentary record that was in part, contradictory and incomplete. Little attempt has been made to improve matters: In 2003 the National Museum of Wales, in describing the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods for Wales, stated:  “The knowledge base is spatially biased and patchy – it is also of a highly variable quality” (Walker, E. 2003. ‘A research framework for the Archaeology of Wales’).

The HER (Historic Environment Record) for caves actually appears to be deteriorating as a result of errors being introduced by CPAT. (To view an example, A review of "Report 980: Caves: The Scheduling Enhancement Programme" can be downloaded as a PDF at the very bottom of this page).

 

No informed assessment of archaeological cave deposits

The Trusts have had almost four decades in which they could have examined and assessed the archaeological deposits present in North Wales caves. Unfortunately they appear to have chosen a policy of doing nothing as a means of protecting cave sites. This is unsustainable in the long-term. Constant threats to deposits include climatic variations and damage by animal and human activity. The longer nothing is done, the more the archaeological resource will deteriorate (See: Dinnis, R. & Ebbs, C. [2013] ‘Cave deposits of North Wales: Some comments on their archaeological importance and an inventory of sites of potential interest’. Cave & Karst Science, Vol.40, No.1. Transactions of the British Cave Research Association).

 

Palaeolithic cave damaged under the care of CPAT and Cadw

Gwaenysgor Cave is a Palaeolithic site of significant archaeological importance. In the late 1960s a sewerage pipe was laid, purposely discharging directly into the cave. Although local organisations were informed of the problem on several occasions after 1975 (when the Trusts were established), unacceptably poor field visits resulted in no action being taken, and the ‘Lower Cave’ is now entirely filled. This damage could have been minimised by designating the site a Scheduled Ancient Monument, as the cave clearly warranted protection under Cadws published scheduling criteria (For further details on the cave, see Gwaenysgor Cave on this website).

 

Incorrect scheduling of caves

The lack of willingness to address the ‘highly variable quality’ of the HER is resulting in some caves being wrongly scheduled. An example is a group of five caves at Llandegla excavated by Boyd Dawkins over 140 years ago. The documentary record is confused and contradictory. Recent amateur work however, has shown that two Boyd Dawkins caves are not scheduled, and that another non-archaeological cave may have been wrongly scheduled (Source: Ebbs, C. [2013] ‘William Boyd Dawkins Llandegla caves re-assessed’. Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions, Vol.61, 11–28).

Designating a cave as a Scheduled Ancient Monument is intended to provide a degree of legal protection. For the last 40 years however, Cadw have failed to inform local caving organisations which caves have been designated, and no signage has ever been erected at these cave sites to inform the general public. Little wonder then, that one or two Scheduled sites have suffered damage in the past.



As long as the protecting organisations continue to favour (sometimes inaccurate) documentary sources over careful examination of the caves themselves, the HER will continue to deteriorate.

Todays financial constraints suggests that the opportunity for local professional organisations to advance their knowledge of cave deposits may now be lost for the foreseeable future.

 


Is cave archaeology too important to be left to traditional archaeologists?


Comments please to:  cavecomment@hotmail.co.uk



 
 
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Some 'modern' primary references

 
There are numerous references to early cave excavations i.e. the first article on Ffynnon Bueno Cave was published by Hicks in 1885. Within the following three years he published at least another 12 papers referring to the cave and 10 more were published by other writers. References to caves excavated more recently however, particularly those by amateurs, tend to get overlooked by professionals. Here therefore are a selection of references relating to excavations carried out since 1962..........
(main source:  Ed Ford, T. (1989) Cave Archaeology in North Wales, in 'Limestones and Caves of Wales')
 
 
Abbreviations used:
AW ............  Archaeology in Wales
NWCC ......   North Wales Caving Club
WPCST ....   William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust
SWCC ......   South Wales Caving Club
 
 
Ffynnon Bueno Cave, Tremeirchion
Davies, M., SWCC, 72, February 1973, Rhinoceros remains in a Flintshire cave
 
Lloches yr Afr, Llandudno
Davies, M., AW, 13, 1973; AW, 14, 1974; NWCC, 12, November 1973; NWCC, 13, December 1973; NWCC, 19, July, 1974; SWCC, 1978, December 1974; WPCST, 24, January 1975 (with photographs)
  
Lynx Cave, Llanferres
Blore, J.D.,  1965   (unpublished) Lynx Cave, Denbighshire, Preliminary Report 1962-4
Blore, J.D.,   n.d.    Lynx Cave Excavations Clwyd 1962-1981, Second report
Blore, J.D.,   2002  The Enigmatic Lynx. ISBN 0 9541835 0 9
Blore, J.D.,   2012   Lynx Cave, Denbighshire: 50 years of Excavation 1962 - 2012

North Face Cave, Llandudno  (Also incorrectly referred to as Ogof Rhiwledyn)
Davies, M., AW, 13, 1973; NWCC, 15, Feb-March 1974.
Blore, J.D., 1977 "Excavations on the Little Orme's Head"(published privately describing work at North Face Cave).
Blore, J.D., 2012 "Archaeological Excavation at North Face Cave, Little Ormes Head, Gwynedd 1962-1976 (updated 2012)"

Ogof Colomendy, Cadole (see under Colomendy Cave)
Carr, E., NWCC, 32, August 1975
Davies, M., NWCC, 32, August 1975; AW, 16, 1976; NWCC, 41, May 1976; NWCC, 49, January 1977; WPCST, 28, January 1977;  NWCC, 54, June 1977; WPCST, 29, July 1977; CCC, 4, 1977-8, 18-23, Ogof Colomendy - Further animal remains and a third human skeleton; AW, 17, 1977.
 
Ogof 'Corkscrew', Llandudno (see under Corkscrew Cave)
David, G.C.., AW, 19, 1979
 
Ogof Pant y Wennol, Llandudno
Davies, M., AW, 14, 1974; NWCC, 19, July 1974; NWCC, 21, September 1974; NWCC, 24, December 1974; SWCC, 77, September 1974; SWCC, 78, December 1974; AW, 15, 1975; NWCC, 32, August 1975;NWCC, 35, November 1975; SWCC, 81, December 1975;WPCST, 25, September 1975 (with plan); AW, 16, 1976;
WPCST, 28, January 1977; WPCST, 29, July 1977; Stone, T.A. & Smith, B., AW, 19, 1979.
 
 
Ogof Tan y Bryn, Llandudno
Davies, M., AW, 15, 1975; NWCC, 30, June 1975; SWCC, 81, December 1975.
 
Ogof Tudno, Llandudno
Stone, T.A., AW, 15, 1975.
Davies, M., NWCC, 32, August 1975; NWCC, 35, November 1975.
Stone, T.A., AW, 16, 1976.
 
Upper Kendrick's Cave, Llandudno
Davies, M., AW, 15, 1975; NWCC, 60, December 1977.
Davies, M. & Stone, T.A., WPCST, 31, March 1978 (with figures).
Davies, M., AW, 18, 1978; AW, 19, 1979; WPCST, 32, February 1979, pp 7-9; Studies in Speleology, 1983, IV, 45-52, The Excavation of Upper Kendrick's cave, Llandudno, Studies in Speleology, 1988. 
Stone, T.A. & Davies, M., AW, 17, 1977.
Gillespie, R., et al. (1985). Radiocarbon dates from the Oxform AMS system. Archaeometry Date list 2, 27 part 2, 237-46.
 
 
 
Please get in touch with details of any additional references.
 
 
 
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Suggested projects to get involved in
 
With archaeological organisations showing little interest in carrying out research into the cave stock of North Wales, advancing our knowledge of these caves therefore lies almost solely in the hands of the amateur. There are many topics worthy of research; the following are just a few..... 

1)   Artifact deposit database
Bones and other artifacts found in our local caves now lie in a multitude of depositories, many in museums, others in private hands. Many have changed hands over the last century or two. Some have been lost or even thrown away. The last published attempt to locate these well-distributed artifacts was over 40 years ago (Valdemar 1970).  In view of the advances in analytical techniques, the importance of these artifacts has grown significantly. There is therefore a need for an up-to-date database of the finds from each cave site to confirm where they are now held, and made freely available on-line.
 

2)   On-line primary excavation reports
Due to the large number of secondary (and sometimes conflicting) documentary sources, all primary sources need to be drawn together for conversion to digital format and made available on-line. The original excavation reports would then serve as a good starting point for future researchers.
 

3)   Identifying remaining cave deposits
Many of our known archaeological caves still contain significant unexcavated deposits. These do not appear to have been identified or assessed. It is likely that far more deposits remain for future excavation work than is currently thought. A misleading statement (Valdemar 1970) referring to Pontnewydd Cave, claims that the cave "has virtually been cleaned sterile". In fact, the cave contains debris-flow deposits several metres in depth and only a few years later, yielded hominin remains 230,000 years old. The majority of the most important deposits at Pontnewydd remain untouched for future work.
Hence an accurate assessment of what remains in all north Wales caves could inform future excavation and scheduling decisions. 
 

4)   Searching for 'new' archaeological caves
Over the last 50 years or so, approximately 140 'new' caves have been discovered, bringing the north Wales total to over 200. Many of these may have archaeological potential. Boyd Dawkins discovered several caves in a few days at Llandegla, simply by excavating badger or fox holes where they could be found at the base of limestone outcrops. Two more undocumented caves have been found in recent years in this same area. Such caves typically have their entrances plugged with earth or more rarely, with glacial debris-flow material. There is nothing to prevent anyone from carrying out limited excavation, at least until interesting remains are found. Then, either call in the professionals or an experienced amateur, to assess the potential importance of the site. Most of our archaeological caves were originally discovered and reported by amateur cave archaeologists or responsible cavers. 
 

5)   Internal cave surveys
Modern-day professional archaeologists have not carried out internal surveying of archaeological caves except at Pontnewydd Cave, Ffynnon Bueno Cave and one or two others. There is therefore an opportunity to carry out a co-ordinated surveying programme to record all 45 or so archaeological caves. Surveys were rarely drawn up at the time of original excavations, hence a new survey project could provide a standardised and more complete record of these important sites.
 

6)   Searching for cave art
The first cave art to be recognised in the UK was at Creswell Crags, Derbyshire, in 2003. 
In August 2011 a cave in Gower was also found to contain cave art: 
See a BBC video of the Gower cave at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-14721056
A systematic examination of north Wales' caves could be carried out by anyone equipped simply with camera, light-source and a good eye.
One north Wales cave has already been examined closely as a possible contender. The evidence is currently regarded as inconclusive......

 
This 2012 image is from an undisclosed north Wales cave (Click on image to enlarge).
Could this be an early carving of a bear or other animal (head and eye on the left), or is it merely a trick played by fissures in the rock?
 
 
Comments from cavers and archaeologists are welcomed:  cavecomment@hotmail.co.uk

 
 
 
And finally, for those of us who struggle with the various archaeological or geological periods, here's a handy table.....
 

  
 



PDF download below:
 
After opening the PDF below, please use your BACK button to return to this page....

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Cave Comment,
19 Oct 2013 08:11
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Cave Comment,
24 Apr 2013 08:14
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