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Site record MDR252 - Poole's Cavern, Green Lane, Buxton

Type and Period (5)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

The celebrated 'Poole's Cavern' seems to have been in the earlier part of the Roman period, either a refuge for some of the belligerent Britons, or the dwelling place of some of them who would not adopt the usages of civilisation, for beneath the stalagmite, etc., when removed by the proprietor in 1865 and subsequent years, were found, mixed with animal and human bone, flints and charcoal, a large number of pieces of Roman pottery, one bearing the potter's name in the usual manner, many coins, two of which are said to have been of Trajan, and a very fine fibula. (1) Poole's Hole or Cavern underlies the massive hill that overhangs Buxton from the south west. Traditionally inhabited by one Poole, an outlaw, in the reign of Elizabeth. Excavated in 1854 and during the late 19th century. Roman occupation of the 2nd and early 3rd centuries and prehistoric flints, potsherds and human bones possibly representing a prehistoric burial, were found. The finds are in a small museum adjacent to the cave. (2) 'Poole's Cavern, situated on Green Lane, constitutes part of Buxton Country Park. The exact provenance of the finds described by authy. 2 has either never been recorded or that record has been lost. The cave was opened again in 1976 after being closed for eleven years.' (3) In 1854 three human skeletons were found in front of the entrance, but the exact location of these "burials" is unknown. (5) At least seven skulls were found at that time, in addition to horns, iron buckles, glass beads, etc. (5) The first controlled archaeological excavation at Poole's Cavern took place between Nov.1981 - Mar.1983. Romano-British finds included jewellery, coins, pottery of mid 2nd - 3rd century, other artefacts and animal bones, most of which were recovered from the steep earth bank on the right hand side of the "Roman chamber". A particular concentration of bronzes, including fibulae and pins, and other "offerings", together with the 'striking diversity' of pottery and an absence of common domestic rubbish, led to the suggestion that the site may have served as a shrine dedicated to water worship. Skeletal remains, including a jaw fragment and teeth, were also found. (6-8) Please see (9-15) for additional information. Further analysis of the excavated material has disputed the interpretation of the site as a shrine or sanctuary, suggesting instead that there was, in fact, a domestic aspect and that this was directly related to the use of the cave for metalworking. One of the products was clearly brooches, with pins and rings also possibly being produced. It was suggested that the burials formed part of an early Roman phase of activity in the cave, followed by a phase of domestic/metalworking usage. (16) This second phase may have been relatively short-lived and seasonal, the attraction being the cavern's stable temperature in the winter, which would have been an advantage when casting bronze. (17)

Sources/Archives (17)

  • <1> Article in serial: Watkin, W. 1886. 'The Roman minor settlements, camps, discoveries of coins etc, and roads in Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeology Journal. Volume 8, pp 190-215. 192.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Haverfield, F. 1905. Victoria County History: Derbyshire, Vol.1. 235-236.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: R1 JSH. 11-JAN-84.
  • <4> Article in serial: Holt, S. 1981: Peakland Arch Soc. Bulletin, 32. pp 14-15.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. 110.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Bramwell, D. 1983. Peakland Archaeological Society Bulletin, vol. 33, pp. 4-12.
  • <7> Article in serial: Gee. 1983. Peakland Archaeology Bulletin, vol. 33, pp. 17-23.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Bramwell, D et al. 1983. 'Excavations at Poole's Cavern, Buxton: an interim report', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 103, pp 47-74.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Lewis, G (University of Liverpool). 1970. The Bronze Age in the Southern Pennines. 546.
  • <10> Article in serial: 1883. The Antiquary: 1883, vol.8, p.77.. Volume 8.
  • <11> Article in serial: Watkin, W. 1886. 'The Roman minor settlements, camps, discoveries of coins etc, and roads in Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeology Journal. Volume 8, pp 190-215.
  • <12> Article in serial: Watkin, W T. 1887. 'Recent Roman discoveries in Britain', The Reliquary. Volume I (N.S.), pp 106-109. 106-107.
  • <13> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1861. Ten Years' Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills. 246.
  • <14> Bibliographic reference: Bramwell, D. The Archaeology of the Peak District. Chapter 14.
  • <15> Index: NDAT. NDAT: 0545.. 0545.
  • <16> Article in serial: Branigan, K & Bayley, J. 1989. 'The Romano-British metalwork from Poole's Cavern, Buxton', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol 109, pp 34-50.
  • <17> Article in serial: Smithson, P & Branigan, K. 1991. 'Poole's Cavern, Buxton, investigation of a Romano-British working environment', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 111, pp 40-45.



Grid reference Centred SK 0498 7257 (10m by 10m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

  • EDR181
  • EDR486
  • EDR487
  • EDR488
  • EDR1179

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Record last edited

Nov 13 2023 2:55PM

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