Skip to main content

Monument record MDR6396 - Ash Tree Cave, Burntfield Grips, Whitwell

Type and Period (4)

  • (Middle Palaeolithic to Roman - 150000 BC to 409 AD)
  • (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • (Middle Palaeolithic to Late Bronze Age - 150000 BC to 701 BC)
  • (Middle Palaeolithic to Roman - 150000 BC to 409 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Ash Tree Cave is situated at the north west side of a dry v-shaped valley known as Burntfield Grips, near Whitwell, and was excavated by Armstrong 1949-1957 when Neolithic burials, a submegalithic cist, Roman and Iron Age pottery, Mesolithic, Creswellian and Mousterian horizons were found. (1) Bronze Age pottery was found on the platform outside the cave during excavations 1959-60. (3) Site No. 2 opposite to Ash Tree Cave was found to be a small rock shelter with a Mesolithic occupation level and small fleckes of charcoal, possibly indicating casual occupation, beneath glacial material. 'Ash Tree Cave' surveyed at 1/2500 at SK 5148676147 The rock shelter could not be identified. Sheffield Museum hold all the finds. The supposed 'Creswellian' artifacts from Ash Tree Cave include as backed tools only Mesolithic 'microliths' and a 'petit tranchet derivative' of more Neolithic aspect. Cave at Burntfield Grips discovered by Dr. A Court and excavated by him and A L Armstrong sporadically between 1938 and 1956. Excavation ceased on Armstrong's death. Further unpublished excavation by Riley and West, and the cave. There appears to have been animal occupation only, with no evidence of a contemporary human presence. (10) Ash Tree Cave is situated north of Hollin Hill, a few kilometres north-west of Creswell Crags and on the south side of the small dry valley of Burhill Wood. It lies level with the existing valley floor and the small cliffs on either side of the valley are no more than 5m high at any point. The cave itself consists of a relatively large entrance chamber, narrowing into a long, sinuous passage and containing backfill from partial excavations carried out between 1934 and the present. These have produced material from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods, but the main significance of the cave lies in the Palaeolithic remains. These include Later Upper Palaeolithic 'Creswellian', Earlier Upper Palaeolithic and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts and faunal remains. Some material has yet to be processed from earlier excavations, but it is anticipated that this will add to the Palaeolithic evidence. Remnants of unexcavated deposits survive along the cave walls and substantial remains are still intact underneath tip in the area outside the cave entrance. A considerable depth of deposit outside the cave is indicated by excavation trenches which did not reach bedrock until 6.2m below datum. The monument includes all deposits inside the cave, and outside the cave, it includes an area of 6m radius around the mouth of the cave.(14) Associated with SMR sites 15124, 15125, 15126, 15127, 15128.

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Article in serial: Armstrong, A. 1956. 'Report on the excavation of Ash Tree Cave, near Whitwell, Derbyshire, 1947 to 1957', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.
  • <2> Correspondence: Bartlett, J (Sheffield City Museum). 1959. Letter regarding Ash Tree Cave, 19th January, 1959. Letter.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: West, S (East Midlands Committee of Field Archaeologists). 1959. East Midlands Archaeological Bulletin, 1959.
  • <5> Article in serial: Armstrong, A. 1953. 'Excavation of prehistoric sites in East Derbyshire, 1953', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 74, pp 102-104.
  • <6> Personal Observation: F1 JB 22-OCT-65.
  • <7> Article in serial: Armstrong, A. 1950. 'Exploration of prehistoric sites in East Derbyshire, 1950', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Hart, C (NDAT). 1981. The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500. p19.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference:
  • <10> Monograph: Jenkinson, R. 1984. Creswell Crags: Late Pleistocene Sites in the East Midlands, British Archaeological Reports 122.
  • <11> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1954. 1954.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Armstrong, A. 1939. Report of the Committee for the Archaeological Exploration of Derbyshire, Dundee, 1939.
  • <13> Article in serial: Armstrong, A. 1957. Report of the Excavation of Ash Tree Cave, near Whitwell, Derbyshire.
  • <14> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1991. Scheduling Notification. 13240. Cat. No.: 283.



Grid reference Centred SK 5148 7614 (39m by 30m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR232
  • EDR242
  • EDR682
  • EDR1312

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Jun 12 2017 4:39PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.