Elderbush Cave, 750m south west of Hallfields Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Caves and rock shelters provide some of the earliest evidence of human activity in the period from about 400,000 to 10,000 years ago as well as continued use through to the more recent periods. The sites, all natural topographic features, occur mainly in hard limestone in the north and west of the country, although examples also exist in the softer rocks of south-east England. Evidence for early human occupation is often located near the cave entrances, close to the rock walls or on the exterior platforms. The interiors sometimes served as special areas for disposal and storage or were places where material naturally accumulated from the outside. Because of the special conditions of deposition and preservation, organic and other fragile materials often survive well and in stratigraphic association. Caves and rock shelters are therefore of major importance for understanding this period. Due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all examples with good survival of deposits are considered to be nationally important.
Despite partial excavation, preserved intact deposits survive at Elderbush Cave dating from the Pleistocene era to the Romano-British period. The deposits contain archaeological and environmental information which will be informative about the lives of those who utilised the cave for shelter, burial, or other purposes over a broad period of occupation and use, and the changing landscape in which all of these peoples lived.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 11 June 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes the cave deposits and occupation site at Elderbush Cave situated within a limestone crag on the eastern side of the Manifold Valley at the top of a steep descent to the River Manifold. The entrance to the cave is five metres wide and four metres high and south of the entrance stands an elder bush presumably from which the cave takes it name. Inside there is a main interior cave with side chambers and passages. Excavations were carried out from 1935-1952 by the Peakland Archaeological Society. The earliest finds from the site were Pleistocene animal remains and Upper Palaeolithic patinated flint flakes. Mesolithic activity has been attested, some human bones are believed to be of Neolithic date and pottery evidence includes Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sherds. Roman finds including a quantity of pottery, an iron knife, fibulae and other bones have also been discovered. The site was surveyed during the RCHME/Trent and Peak Archaeological Trust’s Manifold Valley Caves Project (1989-1992) and borehole samples revealed intact deposits in the east passage. The monument includes all deposits inside the cave, and an area of ten metres radius outside the mouth of the cave where occupation and archaeological debris are known to survive.