Ancient Monuments

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Dowel Cave

A Scheduled Monument in Hartington Middle Quarter, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2054 / 53°12'19"N

Longitude: -1.8883 / 1°53'17"W

OS Eastings: 407559.728057

OS Northings: 367595.260135

OS Grid: SK075675

Mapcode National: GBR 351.3FF

Mapcode Global: WHBBZ.YPZK

Entry Name: Dowel Cave

Scheduled Date: 12 April 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011923

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13243

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Hartington Middle Quarter

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Earl Sterndale St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Derby


Dowel Cave lies approximately 50m up the west side of the southern end
of Dowel Dale, a dry valley 100m north of a tributary of the River Dove.
It consists of a fissure-like entrance and a main cave passage c.7m long
which then narrows for a further 3m before becoming impassable. Outside
the cave entrance, is a large talus deposit of c.15m radius covered with
archaeological tip. Archeological material is believed to survive both
here and in unexcavated deposits within the cave itself. Partial
excavations carried out in 1958 and 1959 showed the cave to have been in
use in the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Beaker, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman
periods, and demonstrated in particular that the site was a Neolithic
burial-cave. Beneath these deposits was found Later Upper
Palaeolithic material, which included flint tools, charcoal denoting a
hearth, fragments of antler, and pieces of bone showing marks of
cutting and crushing. The recently radiocarbon dated tang of an antler point
indicates the cave was in use circa 11200BP (Before Present); a period -
of intense cold towards the end of the Late Glacial interstadial.
The monument includes all the deposits within the cave from the entrance
to as far back as 20m into the interior, and outside the cave it includes an
area of 15m radius from the cave entrance.

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. Caves
and rockshelters 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 Palaeolithic caves of Derbyshire form an important regional
grouping of which Dowel Cave is a significant example owing to the
quantities of deposit surviving and the presence of rare organic finds.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bramwell, D, The Excavation Of Dowel Cave, Earl Sterndale 1958-9, (1959)
Bramwell, D, Second Report On The Investigations At Dowel Hall Cave, (1958)
Campbell, J B, The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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