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)

I've compiled 'An overview of the archaeology of Mendip caves and karst' that 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, June 01, 2018 06:21:53

31st May 2018: with Brockers, Alex, Mike, Nick, Jake and Duncan.

Called in at the farm to collect the mattock retrieved from Hallowe’en last Saturday before meeting the rest of the team in the Wookey Hole car park.

Usual warm trip through Chamber 20 to the dig. There was a little bit more moisture in the cave following some recent rain. At the dig, Brockers digging, Alex and Mike shifting the filled buckets and occasional rocks up to me loading the skip. Nick and Jake hauled the skip up the slope to Duncan, who was managing the spoil dispersal.

The dig is getting ever-deeper and a good-sized team, as tonight, is becoming a necessity for removal of spoil from the bottom. A long bar and a sledge-hammer would be useful for dealing with larger rocks, most of the tools we had here were taken to the dig along the rift and haven’t been returned.

We moved lots of spoil then, we went to the Hunter’s.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, May 29, 2018 06:48:24
28th May: with Roz, Duncan and Nick.

It's been too long since the last visit to Home Close, the aim of the trip, on my part was to pay some attention to the obstruction along the 60m crawl.

A steady trip through the cave to the pitch, which was already rigged, just needed to lower the rope. All down the pitch and along Sandy Passage. At the start of the 60m crawl we split into two groups, Duncan and Nick headed upstream to the gravel choke, Roz and I went to the obstruction barring further progress along the 60m crawl. I started drilling a couple of holes into the flake of rock causing the blockage, it was quite fractured so drilling was not easy. Also drilled two holes into the right-hand wall, all holes 500mm x 12mm. All set-up, we made our way back to Sandy Passage, Roz with the bags while I laid out the wire. Went along to the gravel choke to meet-up with Duncan and Nick, Roz went to look at the boulder choke. Nick was in the process of pushing through the choke, in a pool of slurry, and gained access into a cross-rift, the low gravelly passage continues but requires more digging, about 10m gained. We made our way back to the pitch. Roz was already on the rope, then Duncan followed by Nick, taking my kit bags with them. I returned to the 60m crawl to bring today's proceeding to a satisfactory conclusion, a good reverberating rumble. Then, up the pitch and out of the cave.

We even made the Hunter's!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, May 25, 2018 06:20:27

24th May 2018: with Jake, Jonathon, Alex, Duncan, Nick and Mike.

Nick, after a longish stint working away, was keen to get back to digging, so we let him, Mike clearing away the filled buckets to Jake, who was loading the skip. I was at the first stage of the haul with Jonathon and Duncan pulling the skip up the slope to Alex on spoil dispersal. The sediment was added to the ever-increasing spoil heap, there weren’t many stones, mostly silty sand.

When the time reached ‘ten past beer o’clock’ we finished digging and headed out of the cave.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, May 18, 2018 06:44:17
17th May 2018: with Roz, Jonathon, Jake, Alex and Tav.

Jon and Tav, digging, Alex loading the skip, Jake and me hauling the load, Roz emptied it, adding the spoil to the burgeoning heap.

A lot of sediment was shifted, and the hole grows bigger and deeper!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, May 16, 2018 06:29:31

15th May 2018: with Jake, Tav and Duncan.

We did what we set-out to do. The loose rocks, plus a few others, were removed from the top of the dig, we also cleared a quantity of fine sediment as well. This should enable us to angle the slope down, allowing the digging to go deeper. Peering down from the top, it’s a big hole.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, May 11, 2018 06:32:57

10th May: with Jake, Tav, Brockers, Mike, Jonathon and Duncan.

While Tav took Jon and Mike on a quick detour to 19, Duncan tagged along as well, Brockers, Jake and myself carried on to Sand Dig.

Brockers digging, Jake passed the filled buckets up to me and I emptied them into the skip. The others soon arrived. Duncan positioned himself on the slope, Jon hauling up-slope to the top, Tav and Mike were on spoil dispersal.

A lot of sand was shifted, a large boulder re-positioned, and there’s still more sand to remove. As the session progressed the sand became wetter, whether that is of any significance, who knows?

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, May 04, 2018 06:32:20

3rd May 2018: with Jonathon, Alex, Tav, Brockers, Mike and Ray Deasy.

Another fine assemblage of willing diggers gathered, destined for the Sand Dig.

Alex digging, aided by Brockers, I was loading the skip, Ray on the slope, leaving Tav, Jonathon and Mike to manage spoil dispersal.

To say it was a jovial evening with plenty of banter uttered would be an understatement, Ray was prompted to suggest that the dig be named “Windrush”, very topical too!

However, at the end of the session, a significant quantity of spoil, had again, been removed from the dig, more good progress achieved.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, May 02, 2018 06:32:58

1st May 2018: with Jake, Tav, Jonathon, Duncan and Mike.

A bigger turn-out than expected for this digging session.

At the Sand Dig, Mike digging, Tav shifting the filled buckets back up to Jonathon, who was loading the skip and, in between time, dismantling some of the old spoil heaps at the top of the dig. I was on the slope, helping to haul the skip, Jake and Duncan, sharing the hauling and spoil dispersal tasks.

We need plenty of room at the top to slope down, allowing the digging to go deeper, hence, the moving of some of the old spoil heaps. The rocks will be useful for building walls later.

By the end of the session, a large quantity of spoil had been removed but, there’s plenty more to shift.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, April 27, 2018 07:33:01

26th April 2018: Brockers, Nick, Jake, Jonathon, Roz, Duncan, Mike and Alex.

A big team assembled this evening, keen to get the Sand Dig re-started, it might have been bigger had others been able to attend. Roz and I had arrived a little late, the rest of the team were ready, so off they went with the skip and ropes, Brockers had brought along some ropes as well.

At the dig, Jake, Nick and Brockers were digging and emptying the filled buckets into the skip. Hauling was carried-out by Jonathon and Mike; the rest of the team were assigned the task of spoil dispersal. Water was poured down the slope, an effort to ease the passage of the skip, it worked for a while, on the down-side, it also had the effect of muddying the rope making it difficult to grip. One of the spare ropes was knotted-up and replaced the slippery rope, making the haul a bit easier.

At the end of the session, a lot of spoil had been shifted. The sediment comprises mostly silty, fine to medium grained sand with the occasional cobble of limestone. There’s plenty more of it to shift too!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, April 20, 2018 07:33:53

19th April 2018: with Nick, Duncan, Brockers, Jonathon, Mike, Claire Cohen and Ray Deasy.

A good team assembled for this evening’s foray. As there were plenty of people to carry-on with the dig down the rift, I decided to go along and check the current state of the Sand Dig, Nick came along too. We’ve had a spell of drier weather recently, and surface temperatures are rising. It had been noticeable on the trip through Chamber 20 that water flows had decreased, it was not a surprise to find that the Sand Dig was now, dry. There had been quite a slump of sediment into the end of the dig, as we were there, Nick and I started to clear-out some of the rocks. A skip and hauling rope will need to be organised ready for the digging activities to resume next week.

It was soon time to re-join the rest of the team, they had continued clearing the spoil from the fissure leading-off the rift. When they had emptied the last few bags and climbed the slope, we exited the cave.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, April 13, 2018 06:49:58

12th April: with Tav, Jonathon, Brockers and Duncan.

Five go digging! I couldn’t make the trip last week, but others did and had cleared some of the bang debris, the flake had been successfully fragmented. This evening, we continued to clear the accumulation of spoil from the slowly expanding alcove/rift. The digging is the easy bit, the removal of spoil along the rift is awkward and quite technical, five people is the minimum number required to make digging effective. The spoil mostly comprises gravel and cobbles of conglomerate and limestone with the occasional boulder, these were soon reduced to a more manageable size with the small sledge-hammer. At the end of the session, I could stand-up in the rift and turn-around. There remains, plenty of spoil for another digging session, maybe we will be able to make a better assessment of the prospects then.

Some drier, warm weather is forecast, we might consider going to have a look at the sand dig soon.

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I've got a 'heart of stone'.

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, March 30, 2018 14:32:46

This echinoid was recovered from the spoil heap of a prehistoric ditch being excavated in Sherborne, Dorset recently.

Micraster has a characteristic heart-shaped test, covered in small bosses and usually found in strata of Cretaceous age. Interestingly, the underlying geology at the Sherborne site is Jurassic, this poses a question: does the 'heart of stone' represent a placed deposit? Unfortunately, it was found 'out of context' so one cannot be certain.

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