Ancient Monuments

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King Arthur's Cave, Great Doward

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.8369 / 51°50'12"N

Longitude: -2.6607 / 2°39'38"W

OS Eastings: 354572.467541

OS Northings: 215576.071504

OS Grid: SO545155

Mapcode National: GBR FN.VGM1

Mapcode Global: VH86V.T3R4

Entry Name: King Arthur's Cave, Great Doward

Scheduled Date: 1 September 1952

Last Amended: 10 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010289

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13691

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Whitchurch

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


King Arthur's Cave is formed in carboniferous limestone and is situated on the
south facing slope of Doward Hill, which rises above the River Wye.
The cave consists of two chambers, approximately 10m long and ranging from 2m
to 4m high, which are joined by a short lateral passage near the entrance.
Outside the entrance is a wide platform which is composed of intact
archaeological talus deposits underlying excavation tip.
Artefacts and faunal remains have been recovered from the cave and entrance
areas. They include Early and Late Upper Palaeolithic implements and animal
remains such as hyena, horse and red deer. Two hearths have been identified
in the lateral passage near the entrance, one of which was dated to about
12,120 years ago. Mesolithic artefacts, including a drilled pig's tooth, have
also been found near the entrance.
King Arthur's Cave was first investigated in the 19th century when most of the
interior deposits were removed. Further excavations and survey work were
carried out in the entrance area in the 1950s and more recently a mapped
survey was undertaken of the exposed sections outside the entrance.
The monument includes all remaining deposits within the cave and those
extending 12m either side of the entrance and to a distance of 25m north and
west of the entrance to include the outside platform area.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Palaeolithic caves and rock shelters provide some of the earliest evidence of
human activity in the period from about 400,000 to 10,000 years ago. The
sites, all natural topographic features, occur mainly in hard limestone in the
north and west of the country, although examples also exist in the softer
rocks of south-east England. Evidence for human occupation is often located
near the cave entrances, close to the rock walls or on the exterior platforms.
The interiors sometimes served as special areas for disposal and storage or
were places where material naturally accumulated from the outside. Because of
the special conditions of deposition and preservation, organic and other
fragile materials often survive well and in stratigraphic association. Caves
and rock shelters are therefore of major importance for understanding this
period. Due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their
longevity as a monument type, all examples with good survival of deposits are
considered to be nationally important.

King Arthur's Cave is one of only five English caves with evidence of both
Early and Late Upper Palaeolithic occupation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hedges, et al, 'Archaeometry' in Radiocarbon Dates From The Oxford AMS System, , Vol. 31, 2, (1989)
Symonds, P B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalist's Field Club' in King Arthur's Cave, (1933)
Symonds, P B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalist's Field Club' in King Arthur's Cave on the Great Doward, (1924)

Source: Historic England

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