Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Rowberrow Cavern, Mendip Forest

A Scheduled Monument in Shipham, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.3187 / 51°19'7"N

Longitude: -2.7769 / 2°46'36"W

OS Eastings: 345953.881963

OS Northings: 158022.363262

OS Grid: ST459580

Mapcode National: GBR JH.X07K

Mapcode Global: VH7CV.T3BW

Entry Name: Rowberrow Cavern, Mendip Forest

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011926

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13206

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Shipham

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Rowberrow Cavern is a wide-entranced cave with an extensive platform
outside that is thought to be a now collapsed extension of the cave.
The cave is 6.5m wide at the entrance and continues as a gradually
narrowing passage for 25m. There is a side passage leading from the
left side of the main tunnel.
Outside the entrance is a level platform consisting mainly of collapse
material and ending in a talus. The platform is partly overlain by
excavation spoil and is bisected by a narrow excavation trench, 2-3m
wide and 20m long, which runs from the edge of the talus to the cave
mouth. Inside the cave mouth is a deep rectangular excavation trench
cut into the entrance deposits. Excavations carried out by Taylor
between 1920 and 1926 revealed beneath a `cemented floor' a 2m spread of
Palaeolithic hearth material, including flint artefacts. Importantly,
this was recorded as continuing into the unexcavated deposits towards
the back of the cave. Also recorded from higher levels in the cave were
Iron Age and Roman remains.
The monument includes all deposits inside the cave from the entrance to
25m into the interior, and outside the cave includes the deposits of the

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.
Rowberrow Cavern is regarded as important for its rare Palaeolithic
hearth material and the very extensive nature of the remaining deposits
both inside and outside the cave.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Taylor, H, Fourth Report On Rowberrow Cavern, (1925)
Taylor, H, Rowberrow Cavern, (1922)
Taylor, H, 'being the fifth report on the cave' in Percy Sladen Memorial Fund Excavations at Rowberrow Cavern, 1925, , Vol. 2, (1926)
Pagination 40-50, Taylor, H, Third Report On Rowberrow Cavern, (1924)
Taylor, H, Second Report On Rowberrow Cavern, 1923, Pagination 130-4

Source: Historic England

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