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 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