Ancient Monuments

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Badger Hole, Wookey

A Scheduled Monument in St Cuthbert Out, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2288 / 51°13'43"N

Longitude: -2.6709 / 2°40'15"W

OS Eastings: 353248.480341

OS Northings: 147952.906102

OS Grid: ST532479

Mapcode National: GBR MM.2WP2

Mapcode Global: VH89R.NCCT

Entry Name: Badger Hole, Wookey

Scheduled Date: 3 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010294

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13257

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: St Cuthbert Out

Built-Up Area: Wookey Hole

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Badger Hole is situated on the east side of Wookey Hole ravine, overlooking
the canal serving Wookey Hole paper mill and the River Axe below. The cave
lies about 20m above the present valley floor and almost 11m below the
overlying plateau. It is one of three major examples in the ravine, others
being Rhinoceros Hole and Hyena Den. The mouth of the cave is very large,
measuring about 10m wide by 3m high, and forms a sheltered and well-lit
entrance area. There is a modern retaining wall at the front of the entrance
platform. From the cave mouth two short passages lead back into another
large, partially blocked chamber about 6m high. At the back of the chamber is
a hole in the cave roof providing direct access to the plateau above. There
is a substantial cone of deposit under the aperture in the cave roof. The
total length of the cave from the inner chamber to the retaining wall is about
20m. Excavations have taken place in Badger Hole at various times this
century. These have uncovered a significant collection of Early Upper
Palaeolithic finds including unifacial leaf points and other lithic tools.
There is evidence for a Mesolithic burial dating to about 9000 years ago. The
cave also served as a burial place in the late Roman period and may have been
partially contemporary with the villa site on the hillside above. Significant
quantities of undisturbed deposits are considered to survive at the back of
the cave as well as on the cave walls and under excavation tip in the cave
mouth. The scheduling therefore comprises the whole of the cave and its
deposits, continuing in front of the cave as far as the retaining wall.

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.

The twenty-one sites in Somerset form the densest and one of the most
important concentrations of monuments of this type in the country. Badger
Hole is regarded as important because it has produced rare human skeletal
material and Earlier Upper Palaeolithic artefacts. Although it has been
partially excavated in the past, substantial areas of deposit remain
undisturbed both inside and outside the cave.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barrington, N, Stanton, W I, Mendip: The Complete Caves and a View of the Hills, (1977)
Campbell, J B, The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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