Ancient Monuments

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Saye's Hole, Cheddar Gorge

A Scheduled Monument in Cheddar, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2817 / 51°16'54"N

Longitude: -2.7665 / 2°45'59"W

OS Eastings: 346637.373299

OS Northings: 153897.351412

OS Grid: ST466538

Mapcode National: GBR JH.ZGTX

Mapcode Global: VH89J.01BS

Entry Name: Saye's Hole, Cheddar Gorge

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011916

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13207

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Cheddar

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Saye's Hole lies slightly above present ground level in the southern
cliffs of the gorge, behind the stream known as the Risings. The cave
consists of a wide entrance chamber 14m long, narrowing towards the back
where it connects with a deep cave system. In front of the cave is a
small platform area about 3m wide which is delimited by a talus slope.
The lowermost edge of the talus has been partly disturbed by recent
building work. The entrance was also used as a tearoom early this
century but this has not greatly affected the deposits. A small
excavation trench (1 x 1.5 x 2.65m deep) was cut in 1986 beneath the
drip line of the entrance arch. The sounding revealed evidence of at
least two phases of Iron Age activity, which, due to the similarity of
material in each, were not thought to be significantly separated in
time. These include slag, iron and copper alloy artefacts, butchered
bones and sherds of pottery similar to first century BC Glastonbury-3
Ware. It is thought this pottery may represent a local tradition that
predated and possibly influenced the Glastonbury industry. Possible
evidence of structures exists in two placed limestone slabs associated,
in the lower archaeological layer, with dense lenses of hearth material
comprising both ash and charcoal underlain by baked sediment. The
excavation reached bedrock at 2.65m below the surface. It is
conceivable that pockets of earlier deposit would survive in the
undulating rock floor.
The monument includes all deposits within the cave extending 14m from
the entrance, and outside the cave includes the area up to the edge of
the modern building development.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Caves with totally undisturbed deposits of late Prehistoric age are
exceptionally rare, both in Cheddar Gorge as well as nationally. Saye's
Hole contains a considerable thickness of such deposits known to have
well-preserved Iron Age levels with extremely rich artefactual and
ecofactual evidence. As such, the site offers very high potential for
studying the nature and development of occupation in the south-west
during the last centuries BC. The presence of metal slags also
indicates that the cave may have played an important role in the local
metalworking economy at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Collcutt, S N, Barton, R N E, Brown, L, Laws, , , C, Saye's Hole, Cheddar, Somerset: A New Late Iron Age Site, (1987)
Plus small-scale plan (Pag: 16-23), Stanton, W I, The Survey Of Cheddar Caves, (1953)

Source: Historic England

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