REASONS FOR DESIGNAITION
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. The Palaeolithic caves of Derbyshire form an important regional grouping of which Dowel Cave is a significant example owing to the quantities of deposit surviving and the presence of rare organic finds.
Dowel Cave lies approximately 50m up the west side of the southern end of Dowel Dale, a dry valley 100m north of a tributary of the River Dove. It consists of a fissure-like entrance and a main cave passage c.7m long which then narrows for a further 3m before becoming impassable. Outside the cave entrance, is a large talus deposit of c.15m radius covered with archaeological tip. Archeological material is believed to survive both here and in unexcavated deposits within the cave itself. Partial excavations carried out in 1958 and 1959 showed the cave to have been in use in the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Beaker, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods, and demonstrated in particular that the site was a Neolithic burial-cave. Beneath these deposits was found Later Upper Palaeolithic material, which included flint tools, charcoal denoting a hearth, fragments of antler, and pieces of bone showing marks of cutting and crushing. The recently radiocarbon dated tang of an antler point indicates the cave was in use circa 11200BP (Before Present); a period of intense cold towards the end of the Late Glacial interstadial. The monument includes all the deposits within the cave from the entrance to as far back as 20m into the interior, and outside the cave it includes an area of 15m radius from the cave entrance.
Book Reference - Author: Campbell, J.B. - Title: Upper Palaeolithic Britain, a study of man & nature in L. Ice Age - Date: 1977 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: (2 volumes)
Article Reference - Author: Bramwell, D. - Title: Second Report on the investigations at Dowel Hall Cave - Date: 1958 - Volume: 15 - Type: EXCAVATION REPORT - Description: Pagination 8-13
Article Reference - Author: Bramwell, D. - Title: The excavation of Dowel Cave, Earl Sterndale 1958-9 - Date: 1959 - Volume: 79 - Type: EXCAVATION REPORT - Description: Pagination 97-109