Windmill Hill Cave, Brixham


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008681.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Sep-2020 at 08:33:22.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Torbay (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 92457 55983

Reasons for Designation

Palaeolithic 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. 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 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.

Windmill Hill Cave preserves intact deposits of Late Glacial and Postglacial origin, which have been shown by earlier excavations to be extremely rich in palaeoenvironmental and lithic remains. The site is also of particular significance as it provided the first professionally accepted evidence for the contemporaneity of man and extinct species of fauna.


Windmill Hill Cave is a system of galleries and smaller chambers, orientated NW-SE and extending some 40m into the Devonian limestone outcrop of Windmill Hill, overlooking Brixham Harbour. The cave lies mostly beneath 107, Mount Pleasant Road and is accessible via a gated north entrance below the pavement in front of the house. There are four other entrances, all blocked and on the west side of the complex. The galleries are up to 4.5m in height and the maximum width of the cave system is about 30m east to west. The cave was discovered in 1858 and investigations revealed rich faunal remains associated with Palaeolithic flint implements. The discovery of flint implements and extinct faunal remains in a cave earth deposit sealed beneath a stalagmite floor provided the first scientifically accepted proof of contemporaneity between humans and various extinct animal species in Britain. Over 1600 bones, some apparently split for marrow, others gnawed by animals, and 32 flints were found in the 19th century excavations by Pengelly. Flints of Middle Palaeolithic and post-Palaeolithic type have been identified in the collection. The Palaeolithic finds are believed to come from gravels beneath the cave earth and also from within the cave earth itself. Undisturbed deposits of the cave earth remain in the galleries and chambers. The site has been in use as a show cave in the past, but is unused at present. The monument includes the whole of the interior of the cave and its deposits, but excludes the houses and gardens above the cave. Soil levels overlying the bedrock are also excluded, although the fissures within the bedrock are included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:



This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].