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Monument record MDR2796 - Rains Cave, Brassington

Type and Period (3)

  • (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

[SK 2258 5535] Rain's Cave. (1) In 1888 two of the sons of Mr Rains, a farmer of Brassington Moor, discovered some bones near the surface of the interior of a small cave on a high ridge of ground called Longcliffe. The cave and bones were later examined by Professor Boyd Dawkins, among others, and pronounced to be prehistoric. In addition to animal bones, a variety of human bones, charcoal, broken pottery and a spindle whorl were also identified in material that had been collected from the cave and stored in Mr Rains' barn. Mr Rains' neighbour had also found an assortment of beautiful flint implements in a field in the vicinity. (2) Following the finding of the cave in 1888, systematic excavation was carried out at irregular intervals, chiefly in winter, by John Ward. The oldest deposit was a dark carbonaceous soil full of animal bone and fragments of pottery, almost certainly accumulated when the cave was used as a dwelling place by man. After an interval this was followed by a brief period during which the cave was used as a sepulchre. After another uneventful interval the cave was very briefly used again as a dwelling, one of the occupants being a flint knapper. After another pause the cave was again used for burial. It then does not appear to have been disturbed until discovered by the Rainses. (3, 4) Rains Cave, a small cave in the Longcliffe ridge near Brassington, was excavated in 1890-2 under Ward's direction. Burials accompanied by "Bronze Age" pottery were found. Occupation "probably as far back as the Neolithic age" was indicated. A turned spindle-whorl of shale and several potsherds of late Celtic character were found at a high level. (5) The only Roman material found in Rains cave, was some Romano-British Derbyshire ware, found towards the end of the 19th century. (6) Peterborough Ware pottery was apparently associated with human burials in Rain's Cave. (7) The mouth of the cave is no longer visible. There are several heaps of fallen stone in the immediate area but no more accurate identification was possible. (8) A small cave in the limestone ridge near Longcliffe was excavated between 1890 and 1892 by J Ward. Pottery recovered with seven skeletons included Peterborough Ware. Mortlake and Grimstone Ware was also present. The earliest interment was disturbed by some of the later burials. The pottery was interpreted as Bronze Age by the excavator but was later identified as Neolithic. D Vallence has recovered some possible Bronze Age material from a ledge within the cave. This included an end scraper, a potsherd, animal teeth and fragments of a human skull. Possible Iron Age material recovered from Ward's excavations included a shale spindle whorl and several sherds of 'late Celtic character'. (9)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Map: 1949.
  • <2> Article in serial: Ward, J. 1889. 'On Rain's Cave, Longcliffe, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 11, pp 31-45.
  • <3> Article in serial: Ward, J. 1892. 'On Rain's Cave, Longcliffe, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 14, pp 228-250.
  • <4> Article in serial: Ward, J. 1893. 'On Rain's Cave, Longcliffe, Derbyshire' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 15, pp 161-176.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Ward, J. 1905. 'Early Man' in Victoria County History: Derbyshire. Volume 1, pp 159-190. p 185.
  • <6> Article in serial: Gillam, J. 1939. Antiquaries Journal. Volume 19. p434.
  • <7> Article in serial: Brailsford, J. 1957. 'Later prehistoric cave-dwellings of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 77, pp 54-56. p56.
  • <8> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 26-APR-66.
  • <9> Index: NDAT. 0464. 0464.
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p110.



Grid reference SK 2258 5535 (point) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR504
  • EDR1401

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Record last edited

Jun 25 2015 4:52PM

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