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Monument record MDR2361 - Fissure Cave, Hartle Dale, Hazlebadge

Type and Period (2)

  • (Early Neolithic to Medieval - 4000 BC to 1539 AD)
  • (Early Neolithic to Medieval - 4000 BC to 1539 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

(Area SK 163804) One of the three small caves or rock shelters in Hartle Dale which was excavated by Pennington in 1872. Apart from animal bones, two pieces of prehistoric pottery ornamented by irregular punctures made by a sharpened stick were found. (1) Fissure cave was excavated over three seasons between 1961 and 1963 by Mr A L Pill and Mr P Worthy. Pottery found ranged from Bronze Age to Medieval. Roman coins of the late 4th century covering a period of about 12 years were also found. The finds were retained by the excavators and the British Museum. The entrances of the caves were surveyed at 1:2500, Fissure Cave at SK 16438033 and New Cave at SK 16458032. (2, 3) Hartle Dale Caves. Fragments of human bones associated with bones of goat, pig, fox and rabbit. Thick heavy rim belonging to a bowl of Peterborough Ware type. (It is unknown which cave these artefacts are associated with). (4) Hartle Dale Cave. Excavated by Pill between 1961 and 1964. Parts of three skeletons, two children and one adult, found together with Beaker pottery, stone axe and flint scraper. (8) Two caves (New Cave and Fissure Cave) on the southern flank of the lower end of Hartle Dale, were excavated in 1961 and 1962 by Pill. The finds, in his possession include scrapers, a large rough-backed blade and other flints, a polished stone axe, fragments of a beaker, a food vessel, a collared urn and Iron Age and other pottery, three Roman coins and probable 3rd and 4th century pottery. (10) Neolithic Occupation: Cave in Hartle Dale excavated by Pill in 1961, 1962 and 1965. A cave in a narrow fissure, excavation yielded a polished stone axe of epidotic crystal tuff, probably from Borrowdale, Cumbria or Shropshire. Sherds of Peterborough ware were also recovered, along with a flint scraper and other pieces. Bronze Age Occupation: Excavation of the talus at the mouth of this cave revealed sherds of Bronze age pottery of Food Vessel Type and also possibly of Collared Urn type. Some sherds also occurred within the fissure itself. Some flints, including a scraper were recovered. Iron Age Occupation: Sherds of pottery that were provisionally identified as being of Iron Age date were found. Roman Occupation: Three coins, of Valens, Valentinian I and one uncertain; pottery of 3rd - 4th century, both coarse wares and colour-coats; a lead object possibly a dagger pommel, and a number of bone objects, including an awl or point were found. Medieval Occupation: Medieval pottery. Post-Medieval Occupation: 19th century disturbance had been caused by lead miners exploring a pipe vein run parallel with the valley, between Earl Rake and Moss Rake. (13) BW 01 (Fissure Cave) is a tall fissure cave. It was excavated by Pennington in 1872. It is one of three in this area (see SMR 7602 and 7631). (14) The excavation of Fissure Cave between 1961 and 1963 produced one of the most important assemblages of Later Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery yet found in a Peak District cave. Re-examination over the past decade of the artefacts, human and animal remains from Fissure Cave, and study of Mr Pill's material in Sheffield City Museum, is that the evidence supports the view that there were at least three major phases of activity on the site, two of which are clearly linked. Earlier Neolithic activity is attested by a Mildenhall style bowl; Middle-Later Neolithic activity by Peterborough and locally evolved wares and a re-worked polished stone axe and edge-polished flint scraper; and the Bronze Age by a fragment of Beaker and sherds of two collared urns. The rest of the flintwork is attributable to either or both the Neolithic and the Earlier Bronze Age. Romano-British usage of the cave is demonstrated by fragments of late 3rd century coarse-ware jars, sherds of late 4th century colour-coated ware, a lead object, a bone point and three bronze coins. A date of c. AD 260-400 has been suggested for this phase. The rear of the fissure was probably first used in the 4th millennium BC for the burial of an adult male. Whether the remains of three further individuals were interred at the same time or individually over a number of years cannot be determined. At least four individuals were interred in the fissure overall, an adult (possibly male) aged between 33-45, two young adults possibly aged between 15-21 and an individual aged under 15. The date range of the worked flints spanning the Later Neolithic, the main period of usage of the fissure, to the Early Bronze Age is consistent with the ages of Peterborough wares, Beakers and Collared urns. Like the pottery, the lithics had been brought to the cave probably as tools and had possibly acquired much of their utilisation damage before introduction to the site. (15)

Sources/Archives (15)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Pennington, R. 1877. Notes on the Barrows and Bone Caves of Derbyshire. p 57.
  • <2> Article in serial: Pill, A. 1963. 'Some recent discoveries in the Hartle Dale caves', Proceedings of the British Speleological Society. No. 1, pp 5-13.
  • <3> Article in serial: Pill, A. 1963. 'The caves of Hartle Dale', Cave Science. Volume 5, No. 33, pp 25-35.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 22-SEP-65.
  • <5> Article in serial: Pill, A. 1966. 'An introduction to cave excavation', Cave Science. Volume 5, No. 40, pp 470-479.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Turk, S. 1966. 'Molluscs from a Late Neolithic hillwash at Fissure Cave, Hartle Dale, in Derbyshire', Cave Science. Vol. 5.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Beswick, P. 1969. The Rooke Pennington Collection from Derbyshire in Bolton Museum. p 37.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: 1973. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p 113.
  • <10> Index: Preston, F (Hunter Archaeological Society). Hunter Archaeological Society Index: 2 C/6 D/183.
  • <11> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 0382.
  • <12> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 0383.
  • <13> Index: Ordnance Survey (OS). SK 18 SE 23. SK 18 SE 23.
  • <14> Unpublished document: Holderness, H, Davies, G, Chamberlain, A & Donahue, R (ARCUS). 2006. A Conservation Audit of Archaeological Cave Resources in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. ARCUS Research Report 743.b. pp 27- 28.
  • <15> Article in serial: Gilks, J. 2003. 'The polished stone axe and flintwork from Fissure Cave, Hartle Dale, near Bradwell, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 123, pp 50-58.



Grid reference Centred SK 1643 8033 (10m by 10m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR3854

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Record last edited

Aug 11 2015 9:21AM

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