Ancient Monuments

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Gough's Old Cave

A Scheduled Monument in Cheddar, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2816 / 51°16'53"N

Longitude: -2.7658 / 2°45'56"W

OS Eastings: 346687.533254

OS Northings: 153886.111744

OS Grid: ST466538

Mapcode National: GBR JH.ZH0Q

Mapcode Global: VH89J.01QV

Entry Name: Gough's Old Cave

Scheduled Date: 4 September 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012064

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13260

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Cheddar

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Gough's Old Cave is situated in a rift c.10m up the left bank of Cheddar
Gorge. It consists of a narrow gated entrance, c.3m high and 1m wide, leading
to a chamber measuring c.10.5m x 4.5m. A second entrance, c.5m wide and 2m
high, opens into the back of this chamber from a parallel rift in the cliff
face. The main chamber leads via a collapsed flight of steps to an inner
series of chambers and passages which were used as a show cave in the
nineteenth century. The inner series was opened by blasting in 1877 and,
prior to this date, was inaccessible. It is therefore unlikely to contain
archaeological deposits and has been omitted from the scheduling together with
the artificial and constructional features associated with the show cave.
Partial excavations at the cave by Gough, between 1875 and 1880, and by the
University of Bristol Spelaeological Society uncovered Iron Age and
Romano-British material overlying a tufaceous stalagmite that rested on
Palaeolithic deposits. The latter contained lithic artefacts and cut-marked
horse bone dating to c.12,500 radiocarbon years ago. Considerable areas of
undisturbed deposit occur in the chamber and in the entrances. In the latter
areas, original deposits occur beneath excavation spoil and extend outside the
cave as far as the base of the steep talus slope which forms the main present
access to the cave. The monument includes the cave and all its deposits as
far back as the made steps and outside the entrances as far as the base 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 21 sites in Somerset form the densest and one of the most important
concentrations of monuments of this type in the country. Gough's Old Cave is
particularly important because of the great quantity and quality of surviving
archaeological deposits which are also particularly rich in environmental

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barrington, N, Stanton, W I, Mendip: The Complete Caves and a View of the Hills, (1977)
Gowlett, J, Hedges, R, Law, I, Perry, C, 'Archaeometry' in Radiocarbon Dates From The Oxford AMS System: Archaeometry List 4, , Vol. 28 no.2, (1986), 116-25
Tratman, E K, 'Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological Society' in Gough's Old Cave, Cheddar, Somerset, , Vol. 9, no. 1, (1960), 7-21

Source: Historic England

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