Ancient Monuments

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Ash Tree Cave

A Scheduled Monument in Whitwell, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2798 / 53°16'47"N

Longitude: -1.2293 / 1°13'45"W

OS Eastings: 451484.632065

OS Northings: 376144.463647

OS Grid: SK514761

Mapcode National: GBR MZVJ.N0

Mapcode Global: WHDF6.2TWJ

Entry Name: Ash Tree Cave

Scheduled Date: 11 March 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017583

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13240

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Whitwell

Built-Up Area: Whitwell

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Whitwell St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Derby


Ash Tree Cave is situated north of Hollin Hill, a few kilometres north-
west of Creswell Crags and on the south side of the small dry valley of
Burhill Wood. It lies level with the existing valley floor and the small
cliffs on either side of the valley are no more than 5m high at any
point. The cave itself consists of a relatively large entrance chamber,
narrowing into a long, sinuous passage and containing backfill from
partial excavations carried out between 1934 and the present. These have
produced material from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age
and Roman periods, but the main significance of the cave lies in the
Palaeolithic remains. These include Later Upper Palaeolithic
"Creswellian", Earlier Upper Palaeolithic and Middle Palaeolithic
artefacts and faunal remains. Some material has yet to be processed from
earlier excavations, but it is anticipated that this will add to the
Palaeolithic evidence. Remnants of unexcavated deposits survive along
the cave walls and substantial remains are still intact underneath tip
in the area outside the cave entrance. A considerable depth of deposit
outside the cave is indicated by excavation trenches which did not reach
bedrock until 6.2m below datum.
The monument includes all deposits inside the cave, and outside the cave
it includes an area of 6m radius around the mouth of the cave.

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 Palaeolithic caves of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire belong to a
major regional group of which Ash Tree is an important example due to
the depth of the surviving deposit and the stratigraphic continuity
demonstrated between the cave deposits and those of the valley floor

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Armstrong, A L, Report on the Excavation of Ash Tree Cave near Whitwell, Derby, (1957)
Campbell, J B, The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain, (1977)
Jenkinson, R D S, Creswell Crags: Late Pleistocene Sites in the East Midlands, (1984)
West, S E, Ashtree Cave, Whitwell, (1959)
Anon,, Notes on Excavations, 1960: Ash Tree Cave, Whitwell, Derbyshire, 1961, Pagination 344

Source: Historic England

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