Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Paviland Cave

A Scheduled Monument in Rhossili (Rhosili), Swansea (Abertawe)

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Latitude: 51.5502 / 51°33'0"N

Longitude: -4.2552 / 4°15'18"W

OS Eastings: 243733

OS Northings: 185892

OS Grid: SS437858

Mapcode National: GBR GR.51NL

Mapcode Global: VH3N2.699F

Entry Name: Paviland Cave

Scheduled Date: 21 February 1997

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3516

Cadw Legacy ID: GM504

Schedule Class: Monument

Category: Cave

Period: Prehistoric

County: Swansea (Abertawe)

Community: Rhossili (Rhosili)

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument consists of a cave containing archaeological deposits dating to the upper palaeolithic period. Paviland Cave is situated at the base of a south-facing limestone cliff. It is a cleft narrowing towards the top to a height of 7m, opening into a cave 21m deep with a chamber 3.6m high. Excavations between 1822 and 1823 revealed the burial of the 'Red Lady of Paviland' - a crucial discovery demonstrating some of the earliest evidence for the human occupation of Britain.

Believed by antiquarians to be female, the 'Red Lady' is actually the skeletal remains of a young adult male. The skeleton was buried in the cave floor, covered in red ochre and was accompanied by a number of grave goods. Excavations during the 19th century and up to 1913 have made this the most productive site of this date in Britain. Artefacts found in the cave include: perforated sea-shell necklaces; mammoth ivory bracelet; stone needles and over 4000 worked flints. Recent re-evaluation of the radiocarbon dating of the human remains has determined that the remains are 33,000 years old.

The monument is of national and international importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of Palaeolithic settlement, ritual and funerary practices. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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