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

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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