Monument record MDR15610 - Church Hole Cave, Creswell Crags, Holbeck, Nottinghamshire

Type and Period (3)

  • (Middle Palaeolithic to Roman - 150000 BC to 409 AD)
  • (Middle Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • (Tudor to Georgian - 1547 AD to 1779 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Large cave, the entrance has side chambers while the main fissure runs straight into the hillside. The first excavations were by Tebbet (1870s) who noticed bones in the rear of a cattle barn that at one time occupied the mouth. Formal excavations started soon after by Mello and Boyd Dawkins (1875). A great deal of bone material was recovered, 'two farmcart loads' being the result of one day's work. The evidence of human occupation is scanty but consists of Mousterian, Early Upper Palaeolithic and Roman horizons. (1) The cave is situated towards the west end of the south wall of the valley and occupies a primary position. Several 19th century excavations revealed masses of fossil bones. The human deposit included some 240 artefacts including quartzite tools of Mousterian form and forms similar to Robin Hood's (SMR 34304) and Pin Hole (SMR 34305). Human use in Middle and Upper Palaeolithic represented by artefacts and animal bone. Animal use of cave during Pleistocene. Small proportion of internal deposits survive. Excavation in 1876 uncovered a quantity of Roman pottery sherds. Numerous clay pipe fragments were found during excavation (unknown years). (2) Church Hole Cave (cave C14), within Creswell Crags, in Nottinghamshire. Clay pipe fragments represented as a large artefact scatter. Probably associated with post medieval occupation and use of the cave as a barn. Roman occupation of the site is represented by a quantity of Roman pottery sherds, unknown quantity, unknown ware. Rock carving cave art dated to Late Upper Palaeolithic. (3, 4, 5, 6) The first engravings of 'birds' and of a stag (though this was first identified as an ibex) were spotted in April, 2003. Later visits identified many more features over walls and ceiling, including bas-reliefs and one possible painting. So far (2005), these are the only examples of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain. (7) A number of figurative engravings in Church Hole Cave were discovered on the morning of April 14th, 2003. The first of the figures were initially thought to be two birds and a large ibex, however after further investigation and improved lighting conditions, it appeared that the ibex was a stag. The principle problem with working in the cave was that it had been emptied of its sediments and deposits since the 1870s and so Upper Palaeolithic floor in the entrance chamber was about 2m higher than the present floor- at one time the stag engraving would have been at eye level. A number of panels were seen in Church Hole depicting cave art (see source for panel locations): Panel 1 depicts a 'bovid head' facing left. Panel 2 depicts and oval, geometric shape. Panel 3 depicts a stag, bison and what may be birds with a number of lines (the panel is covered in more recent graffiti). Panel 4 on the cave celing shows a form of 'headless horse'. Panel 5 depicts a triangle shape. Panel 6 shows clearly intentional lines. Panel 7 has been repeatedly revised, but is thought to depict bittern or cranes with geese of different sizes. Panel 8 depicts two clearly intentional lines meeting at an angle. Panel 9 shows very superfical, unconnected lines. Panel 10 depicts a figure of what may be birds. Panel 11 shows unconnected, shallow lines. Panel 12 depicts what may be a representation of a vulva. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Jenkinson, R. 1978. The archaeological caves and rock shelters in the Creswell Crags area, Creswell Crags Visitor Centre research report No. 1.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Smith, K, Little, J & Bishop, M. The prehistoric heritage of the Creswell area, a strategy for conservation.
  • <3> Index: Nottinghamshire County Council. 2015. Nottinghamshire Historic Environment Record monument details full report: Church Hole Cave, Holbeck- Clay pipe fragments (L8694).
  • <4> Index: Nottinghamshire County Council. 2015. Nottinghamshire Historic Environment Record monument details full report: Church Hole Cave, Holbeck- Roman pottery (L8693).
  • <5> Index: Nottinghamshire County Council. 2015. Nottinghamshire Historic Environment Record monument details full report: Cave Art, Church Hole Cave, Holbeck (L4373).
  • <6> Index: Nottinghamshire County Council. 2015. Nottinghamshire Historic Environment Record monument details full report: Church Hole Cave, Holbeck (L8692).
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Bahn, P. 2005. Current Archaeology.
  • <8> Article in serial: Ripoll, S, Muñoz, F, Bahn, P & Pettitt, P. 2004. 'Palaeolithic cave engravings at Creswell Crags, England', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 70.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SK 5339 7411 (20m by 18m)
County NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

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Record last edited

Jun 12 2017 4:34PM

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