Ancient Monuments

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Merlin's Cave, Great Doward

A Scheduled Monument in Goodrich, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.8341 / 51°50'2"N

Longitude: -2.6457 / 2°38'44"W

OS Eastings: 355602.211131

OS Northings: 215256.065625

OS Grid: SO556152

Mapcode National: GBR FP.VLB5

Mapcode Global: VH86W.3558

Entry Name: Merlin's Cave, Great Doward

Scheduled Date: 13 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012448

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13692

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Goodrich

Built-Up Area: Symonds Yat West

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Whitchurch

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


Merlin's Cave lies on the south east side of Great Doward, overlooking the
River Wye.
The entrance to the cave is rectangular in shape and is located in the
rock face about 5m above the top of a steep earthen slope which drops away 58m
to the river below. The cave consists of a large north-south running rift
which is about 4m wide and extends 18m back into the rock. On the east side of
the entrance is a smaller rock cavity which may connect with the main cave but
the link cannot yet be demonstrated.
The cave was discovered in the 19th century during iron-ore mining. Further
excavations in the 1920s identified substantial remaining deposits and
uncovered human remains from Late Glacial contexts below a stalagmite floor.
Drilled ornaments of shell and teeth in the same deposit are considered to be
grave goods accompanying the burial, and are identified as being either of
Late Palaeolithic or Mesolithic age. Faunal remains from adjacent deposits
have been radiocarbon dated to about 10,000 years ago and confirm the cave was
open during the latest Glacial period. Substantial traces of these deposits as
well as the stalagmite floor are still visible within the cave.
The monument includes all the deposits within the cave and smaller cavity on
the east side extending from the entrance to about 18m into the cave.

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.

Merlin's Cave is one of two caves in the Wye valley with evidence of Late
Glacial human activity. It retains considerable potential for archaeological
and environmental evidence of this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bate, D M A, 'Geological Magazine, New Series' in A Short Acct of a Bone Cave in the Carb lstone of the Wye Valley, , Vol. 8, (1901), 101-6
Hewer, T F, 'Proc of the Univ of Bristol Spelaeological Society' in Second report of excavations in the Wye valley, , Vol. 2, 3, (1927), 216-8
Hewer, T F, 'Proc of the Univ of Bristol Spelaeological Society' in First report on excavations in the Wye valley, , Vol. 2, 2, (1925), 147-62

Source: Historic England

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