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Monument record MDR125 - Dowel Cave, north-west of Dowal Hall Farm, Hartington Middle Quarter

Type and Period (5)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

SK 0756 6759. Dowel Cave, at the lower end of Dowel Dale, has an entrance 3.3m high and 0.8m wide. The interior shelves steeply downwards. The cave was excavated during 1958 and 1959 by the Peakland Archaeological Society. Occupation in the late Upper Palaeolithic was evidenced by two Creswell points and fragments of reindeer antler and bone. Mesolithic: Excavation of Dowel Cave by the Peakland Archaeological Soc., 1958-9, yielded a bone point base that might be part of a Mesolithic bone harpoon. An unretouched blade or flake that might be contemporary, was also found. Iron Age Occupation: Excavated by the Peakland Archaeological Society, 1958 and 1959. Above the Neolithic burials, sherds of apparently Iron Age pottery were recovered. These had some affinity with forms recovered from Breedon- on-the-Hill, Leicestershire. Roman Occupation: Excavation showed evidence of Roman occupation. This comprised pot sherds and a bone spindle-whorl. (1) Neolithic Occupation: Excavation by the Peakland Archaeological Society showed that the cave had been used as a burial chamber in the Neolithic. At least ten inhumations were recovered. Seven were near the entrance, two in a blocked off area and another in a second blocked-off area. Three skeletons were extended, one crouched, the remainder were too disturbed by subsequent burials for their position to be ascertained. The crouched skeleton was accompanied by two flints, one on either side of the pelvis. Another was close to the headless skeleton of a dog. (2) Dowel Cave became a scheduled monument on the 12th April 1991. 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. Dating of bone harpoon suggests an Upper Palaeolithic date. (8) The cave exists within an area of Romano-British settlement. (9) Photographic record. (10,11) Visit observations showed no perceivable damage or threats to the site. (12)

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Index: OS. SK NE 12 (?).
  • <2> Index: OS. SK 06 NE 63. SK 06 NE 63.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Bramwell, D. 1958. "Second Report on the Investigations at Dowel Cave", Peakland Archaeological Society. Vol.15, pp 8-13.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Bramwell, D. 1959. "Third Report on the Investigation at Dowel Hall Cave", Peakland Archaeological Society. Vol.16, pp 7-12.
  • <5> Article in serial: Bramwell, D. 1959. 'The excavation of Dowel Cave, Earl Sterndale, 1958-9', Derbyshire Archaeology Journal. Vol.74, pp 79-109.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Wymer, J J (ed). 1977. Gazetteer of Mesolithic Sites in England and Wales: Council for British Archaeology (CBA) Research Report 20.
  • <7> Index: NDAT. 1055. 1055.
  • <8> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1991. Scheduling Notification. 13423.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Bevan, B (PDNPA). 2000. Peak District Romano-British Rural Upland Settlement Survey, 1998-1000. 3 vols.. Site 101, pp 65-66.
  • <10> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 497.35-37.
  • <11> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 6807.1-11.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Burrow, L (PDNPA). 2008. Scheduled Monument Monitoring Form: Dowel Cave.



Grid reference Centred SK 0755 6759 (18m by 22m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR239
  • EDR3136

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Record last edited

Apr 30 2015 9:02AM

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