Ancient Monuments

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Soldier's Hole, Cheddar Gorge

A Scheduled Monument in Cheddar, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2827 / 51°16'57"N

Longitude: -2.7633 / 2°45'47"W

OS Eastings: 346861.820841

OS Northings: 154008.061078

OS Grid: ST468540

Mapcode National: GBR JH.ZHN2

Mapcode Global: VH89J.200Z

Entry Name: Soldier's Hole, Cheddar Gorge

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011914

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13204

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Cheddar

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Soldier's Hole is a shallow, wide entranced cave situated on the south
side of the gorge, 40m up from the road and 65m below the plateau. The
entrance and side-tunnel contain spoil left over from excavations
carried out by R. F. Parry (1925-29). The cave has produced Neolithic,
Bronze Age and Romano-British material, but its main significance lies
in the Upper Palaeolithic remains. Seven stone artefacts and an ivory
awl from the Earlier Upper Palaeolithic were found during the original
excavations, and thirteen flint artefacts of the Later Upper
Palaeolithic, implying two distinct occupation horizons. In addition,
Pleistocene faunal remains, radiocarbon dated from more than 35,000
years ago to c.10,000 years ago have been recovered. It is doubtful
whether the areas under the spoil were ever fully excavated, and it is
anticipated that these and other pockets of undisturbed deposits still
remain in situ.
The monument includes all deposits within the interior of the cave and
outside the cave entrance as far as the steep break of slope down into
the gorge.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Palaeolithic caves and rockshelters 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. As such
caves and rock shelters are 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. The
Soldier's Hole example is regarded as significant for producing not only
Later Upper Palaeolithic artefacts, but also artefacts of the Earlier
Upper palaeolithic, including associated faunal material.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jackson, J W, The Vertebrate and Molluscan Fauna of Soldier's Hole, (1931)
Bramwell, D, 'at Soldier's Hole, Cheddar' in Report On A Collection Of Bird Bones From The 1929 Excavations, , Vol. 104, (1960)
Gowlett, J, Hedges, R, Law, I, Perry, C, 'Archaeometry' in Radiocarbon Dates From The Oxford AMS System: Archaeometry List 4, , Vol. 28, (1986)
Campbell, JB, Hypothetical section of the Soldier's Hole deposits, based upon Parry's description and the author's observations,
Pagination 508-24, Ambers, J and Matthews, K and Burleigh, R, British Museum Natural Radiocarbon Measurements 18, (1985)
Parry, R F, Excavations at Cheddar, (1931)

Source: Historic England

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