Category Archives: Caves


Kirkdale Cave near Kirkbymoorside, Pickering

Kirkdale Cave is a cave located in Kirkdale near Kirkbymoorside in the Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, England. The cave was discovered by workmen in 1821, and was found to contain fossilized bones of a variety of mammals not currently found in Great Britain, including hippopotamus, the farthest north any such remains have ever been found, elephant, and the remains of numerous cave hyenas. William Buckland analyzed the cave and its contents in 1822. He determined that the bones were from the remains of animals brought into the cave by hyenas who had been using it for a den, and not a result of the biblical flood floating animal remains in from distant lands as had first been thought. His reconstruction of an ancient eco-system from detailed analysis of fossil evidence was admired at the time, and considered to be an example of how geohistorical research should be done.

The cave was extended from its original length of 175 metres to 436 metres by Scarborough Caving Club in 1995.

A survey was published in Descent magazine.

The fossil bones found in the cave included elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, hyenas, bison, giant deer, smaller mammals and birds. This is the northernmost site in the world where hippopotamus remains have been found. It also included a considerable amount of fossilized hyena feces. The fossiized remains were embedded in a silty layer sandwiched between layers of stalagmite.

Excalibur Pot Cave in the North York Moors

Excalibur Pot is a natural cave in the North York Moors area of England. It is the only major cave known in the North York Moors, and is formed within the Corallian limestone of the Upper Jurassic. The entrance is in the normally dry stream bed of Hutton Beck, midway between Hutton-le-Hole and Keldholme.

Two short pitches of 8 m and 5 m descend to a large chamber, which is followed by an extensive inlet series, and a large main streamway accessed by a 4 m pitch. Several areas have admirable formations, far more elaborate than anything else found on the North York Moors. The sources of the water are various sinks in Hutton Beck, and the stream eventually resurges from Bogg Hall Rising in the adjacent Douthwaite Dale at Keldholme.

Reed’s cave near Buckfastleigh, Dartmoor, Devon

Reed’s cave is a cave in Higher Kiln Quarry near Buckfastleigh, Dartmoor, Devon.

It has many formations including the unique Little Man, which is beyond Easter Chamber. Devon’s only true troglobite collembolan Pseudosinella dobati is recorded from this cave.

Near the entrance, there is a long crawl followed by a squeeze that leads to a grotto followed by Easter Chamber. Easter Chamber has lots of boulders and a few pools and formations. From here, some passages lead to the little man formation, which is directly below the tomb of the Cabell family.

People are generally not allowed to enter Reed’s Cave, but some entries are permitted during the summer months. Reed’s Cave was once connected to Bakers pit but the connection has been filled in with concrete. Because of entry restrictions, the cave has become an important roosting site for Greater Horseshoe Bats.

Pridhamsleigh Cavern Ashburton, Devon

Pridhamsleigh Cavern is a cave on the outskirts of Ashburton, Devon, England. It is approximately 800 yards in length with a total depth of just over 50 metres including Prid II.

Pridhamsleigh is a good site for novice cavers although it is quite muddy. It has a large variety of passages which lends itself to longer explorations. Due to the nature of the connecting and non connecting overlapping passages in the cave, surveys maps of the cave are hard to interpret. The cave contains ‘The Lake’. this elongated pool is around 100 feet deep and in the early 1970s divers with SCUBA gear discovered a route into second partially air-filled chamber, with no passages leading off it. This chamber is the biggest in Devon and is named Gerry’s Chamber after its discoverer, the late Gerry Pritchard.

An accurate, hand-drawn, plan of the cave is held in the reference section of Plymouth Library. Although not requiring any great skill, the cave is quite complex, there being three distinct routes from ‘Bishop’s Chamber’ to the lake. First-timers should note their route carefully as it is easy to get disorientated.

The cave is the type locality for the cave shrimp endemic to the south-west of England, Niphargus glenniei.

Kents Cavern Torquay, Devon

Kents Cavern is a cave system in Torquay, Devon, England. It is notable for its archaeological and geological features. The caves are a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (since 1952) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (since 1957), and are open to the public.

The caverns and passages at the site were created around 2 million years ago by water action, and have been occupied by one of at least eight separate, discontinuous native populations to have inhabited the British Isles.

The other key paleolithic sites in the UK are Happisburgh, Pakefield, Boxgrove, Swanscombe, Pontnewydd, Paviland, and Gough’s Cave.

A prehistoric maxilla (upper jawbone) fragment was discovered in the cavern during a 1927 excavation by the Torquay Natural History Society, and named Kents Cavern 4. The specimen is on display at the Torquay Museum.

In 1989 the fragment was radiocarbon dated to 36,400–34,700 years BP, but a 2011 study that dated fossils from neighbouring strata produced an estimate of 44,200–41,500 years BP. The same study analysed the dental structure of the fragment and determined it to be Homo sapiens rather than Homo neanderthalensis, thus making it the earliest anatomically modern human fossil yet discovered in North-West Europe.

Maxilla Kent’s Cavern 4, then the Gravettian Paviland 1 and Eel Point represents the oldest anatomically modern humans known from Britain

Bakers Pit Cave in Devon

Bakers Pit Cave in Devon

Bakers Pit is a phreatic maze cave system near Buckfastleigh, Devon, England.

It was first opened in 1847 by quarrying activities.

Bakers Pit is entered via a vertical descent of 16 metres. It has 3.631 kilometres (2.256 mi) of passage contained within an area of 4 hectares (9.9 acres) and a small stream, flowing to the River Dart, that is still actively developing the cave.

It was once connected to Reeds cave, however, only “voice” connection is currently possible, and only in a few locations. Connections between the two systems have been filled in with concrete to protect the beautiful formations in the Reeds cave.

The cave was much frequented between the wars by local people during which time many of the calcite formations were destroyed, although there are signs that there is some active regeneration.