rambling on

is all about excursions in the countryside including caving and digging trips, walks and thoughts.

Simmonds, V. 2014. An overview of the archaeology of Mendip caves and karst. Mendip Cave Register & Archive (MCRA). (currently being revised, 2016)

An overview of the archaeology of Mendip caves and karst is freely available online at www.mendipgeoarch.net and in the archaeology section of the Mendip Cave Register & Archive at www.mcra.org.uk

Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 24, 2018 08:31:53

23rd August 2018: With Duncan, Mike, Jonathon, Nick and Tav

Duncan and Mike down in the sand-pit digging, Jonathon and myself shifting the filled buckets up to Nick and Tav who were hauling and emptying the buckets. Plenty of talk about speleogenesis and looking at scalloping to determine flow direction, seems recent events in Hallowe’en Rift have got us thinking and talking. Just don’t mention paragenesis!

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Gower Peninsula, Wales

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, August 21, 2018 08:38:10

18th-19th August 2018

Saturday: Walked the dog, got back coffee and breakfast, packed kit, loaded van and set-off for the Gower at 08:00, arrived Overton 10:25. JC wasn’t there but arrived soon after. We walked from Overton to Harry Thomas’s Cave in mizzle. First job of the day was to clear bags from various stages in the cave and stack them in the entrance. Then, we were ready to dig and fill some more bags. While looking at the progress so far, I noticed what appeared to be animal scratch marks in the softer calcite and later, took some photographs.
I removed a small bank of wet claggy scree first, in amongst the sediments several animal bones were recovered, these were bagged to be identified later. Soon, more bones were uncovered, including two fox skulls, mandibles with dentition, vertebrae, ribs etc. There were enough bones to fill a large sample bag, mostly fox, but a few bones of other species including Rodentia.

Time for a lunch break and we returned to the surface. After lunch we moved some of the bags stacked in the entrance along to the end of the path, these can be emptied later. We returned underground.

I continued to dig down in the fissure and couldn’t believe it when I uncovered a third fox skull, moved a few more stones and there was the rest of the skeletal remains. At this point, we decided to stop digging, tidied up and left the cave.
After JC and I parted company I drove down to Port Eynon where I had intended to go for a swim but the inclement weather – strong wind, grey and damp – put off that idea and I had a paddle instead and walked along the beach. I decided while I was here I would get a fish and chip supper before driving up to Cefn Bryn for the night. It was windy and low cloud shrouded the hills, no views tonight. Settled down in the van and wrote up today’s proceedings in my journal.

Was rocked to sleep, not so gently, by the strong winds and squalls.

Sunday: When I awoke, the weather was much the same so decided to drive down off Cefn Bryn to find a more sheltered spot near Stout Hall. Washed, then breakfast, before a toilet stop in Port Eynon.

Met JC and David Hughes in Overton at 09:00. A wet walk with blustery winds, mizzle and occasional squalls to Harry Thomas’s Cave. In the cave, David went to the bottom, I was on the mid-point platform, JC at the entrance. We cleared yesterday’s filled bags and any others that were there. I hauled the bags up from David in a bucket, then climbed the ladder with bag in hand to dump them on the entrance platform for JC to clear to the outside.

When David had cleared the filled bags, he started to dig and fill more, I hauled them up, climbed the ladder and dumped the bags on the entrance platform, then returned to repeat the procedure many times. We also cleared a pile of loose large cobbles and boulders of limestone.

When JC had a backlog of spoil, I went to the surface to move the bags along the path. Lunchtime came.

After lunch, David moved bags on the surface, I returned underground with my Disto X310 to take some measurements, JC came down to take some photographs. It was then decided to call it a day, the remains of the third fox unexcavated, secured the cave and made our way back to the vehicles parked in Overton.

I left for home c.15:00, brief stop in Knelston for some supplies, arriving back at Rugmoor c.17:45. An interesting and productive weekend.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, August 21, 2018 06:40:41

16th August 2018: With Roz, Jonathon, Duncan, Tav, Nick and Mike.

Nick, Tav and Mike down in the sand-pit; Duncan, Jon and Roz were on hauling duties; after taking a few photographs, I was emptying the buckets. The sediment removed varied from sand to boulders and there was plenty of it, plenty more to come too!

It was a pleasant evening with lots of friendly banter.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 10, 2018 06:16:51
9th August 2018: with Brockers, Tav, Nick, Jon, Duncan and Alex.

Jon, Nick and Tav playing in the sand-pit with their buckets and spades, Duncan took away their buckets, while the rest of us hauled-away and emptied the buckets and then, sent the buckets back. Some rocks were broken-up too, until Jon broke the hammer. A good time was had by all!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 03, 2018 06:30:49

2nd August 2018: I haven’t managed to dig in Wookey Hole for a while due to one thing or another, in the meantime, the rest of the team have continued with the task. Good to get back and see the progress made.

With Mike, Alex, Jonathon, Duncan, Claire, Tav took some Wessex members for a tour around Chamber 20, etc., he joined us later.

Mike and me digging, the others clearing the spoil away. The digging was not speedy, some big boulders impeding progress, scratched around them and managed to shift a couple of them. The way forward is not entirely clear, so keep digging and see what happens. It was warm, as ever.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, July 06, 2018 06:33:16

5th July 2018: Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Brockers, Duncan and Tav.

The spoil removal team: Jake, Jonathon, Nick and Brockers, got on with digging out the sediment, breaking up boulders with the new sledge hammer, and loading the resulting debris into the skip. The spoil dispersal team: Duncan, me and Tav, hauled the skip up the slope and emptied its contents on to the ever-growing spoil heap. This procedure repeated over and over, until the clock passed beer o’clock when we left the cave. Plenty of spoil shifted, plenty more to shift!

28th June 2018: Tav, Jon, Mike, Jake and Nick.

Tav’s account, I finished work too late. “Removed the usual steady stream of sand and clay which further exposed the group of large boulders in the floor of the pot. With the aid of the full team, two of these were later physically manhandled up on to the upper ledge.”

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 22, 2018 06:35:12

21st June 2018: with Brockers, Nick, Jake, Tav, Jonathon and Mike.

I went to the dig-face to look at a potential boulder blockage, Brockers and Nick were behind me. While I concentrated on cleaning around the boulders and into an alcove, they continued to expand the working space at the bottom of the pit. Filled buckets and the occasional were removed from the dig at a good, steady rate.

By the end of the session, the boulders don’t appear to be too much of a problem at the present, they can be worked around and dug-out, if necessary.

Another fine digging session, thirsty work, time for refreshments.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, June 20, 2018 06:22:11

19th June 2018: with Nick and Duncan.

Steady trip down to the start of the 60m crawl, reeled in the wire, before getting to work clearing the obstruction barring further progress. The IRS had the desired effect and the blockage had been reduced to fractured rock and gravel. Quickly relocated some boulders, cobbles and gravel and was able to pass over the obstruction into the open passage beyond. Unfortunately, not much of it. The passage, c.2m (h) x 0.75m (w) x 4m (l), heads north-west to a sediment blockage, low-down heading south-west, a body-size tube was followed for c.4m, it continues for another c.4m, where it bends towards south and appears to get a bit bigger. The air is fresh in the tube. Of course, it’s all liberally coated with mud. However, with a bit of digging the tube will be more ‘comfortable’ and the bend ahead reached. Back in the day, might have pushed it a little bit harder. A slightly disappointing outcome, but the obstruction in the 60m crawl has been passed, and that’s digging for you, On the way out of the 60m crawl, both Duncan and I had flashbacks to digging in Daren Cilau, emerging from the Rock Steady Cruise into the sandy passage at the end. Happy days!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 15, 2018 06:02:11

14th June 2018: with Mike, Jonathon, Tav, Alex, Brockers and Jake.

Mike was upfront filling the buckets, Jonathon and Tav were passing the filled buckets up to Alex who emptied the contents into the skip. Brockers did the brunt of the hauling up the slope, I passed the skip to Jake who dispersed the spoil to the heap.

Sediment was shifted at a steady rate but there are some irksome boulders impeding more rapid progress. These will need looking at and a plan formulated as to how best to deal with them.

There was, of course, plenty of banter throughout the evening session.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, June 14, 2018 05:58:30

12th June 2018: with Brockers, Jonathon and Duncan.

Straight from work to the suppliers to make a collection of the ingredients necessary for the application of induced rapid speleogenesis (IRS), then up to Wigmore Farm to make the preparations for the evenings task while waiting for the team to arrive.

I got changed and walked over to the entrance with the kit. Brockers and Jonathon arrived, Duncan was almost ready, so we set-off underground.

At the bottom of the 26m pitch, Duncan started to dig a potential lead, Jonathon went off to explore Home Close, later to join Duncan, Brockers and me headed off to the 60m crawl. At the obstruction, drilled 1no. hole, 500mm x 12mm, into the right-hand wall, 2no. holes, 500mm x 12mm, into a fractured flake of rock, and 1no. hole, 350mm x 12mm, into a large boulder. Brockers led out with the drill bag and tube, I followed on with a bag and laid out the wire.

Back at the pitch, got the SRT kit on, and when the last man was on the rope, went back to the 60m crawl to bring the evenings endeavour to a satisfactory conclusion – a low, rumbling echo.

The evening was finished off with refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn. All was good!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 08, 2018 06:22:16

7th June 2018: with Jake, Mike, Jonathon, Brockers and Alex.

Jake digging, Mike passing the filled buckets up to Jon who was loading the skip. Brockers did the brunt of the hauling up the slope and I was emptying the skips for Alex to shovel the sediment up onto the spoil heap. Some large boulders were shifted but they were retained for use for wall building in the future. There was lots of sand and lots of banter, at our end anyway.

Time passed, it reached beer o’clock, we left the cave, got changed in the car park and headed up to the Hunter’s for well-earned refreshments.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, June 06, 2018 06:34:45

5th June 2018: with Brockers and Duncan.

Rumours of a significant blockage of the 60m crawl, the result of induced rapid speleogenesis (IRS), turned out to be unfounded. The obstructing flake, that bars further progress along the passage, had come down, bringing other stuff with it, a probability that had already been discussed some time ago. We moved some of the larger flakes/boulders into a position that we could work around and set about removing a quantity of fractured rock. Managed to reach forward and clear much of the debris along the right-hand side, there is more, but that was out of reach. We could almost see the way forward and detected a significant air movement. The way ahead remains promising. Another application of IRS may be all that is required to reduce a couple of obstructing boulders and gain access to the potential passage beyond.

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