Badger Hole, Wookey

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010294

Date first listed: 03-Sep-1992

Map

Ordnance survey map of Badger Hole, Wookey
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: St. Cuthbert Out

National Grid Reference: ST 53247 47954

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

The twenty-one sites in Somerset form the densest and one of the most important concentrations of monuments of this type in the country. Badger Hole is regarded as important because it has produced rare human skeletal material and Earlier Upper Palaeolithic artefacts. Although it has been partially excavated in the past, substantial areas of deposit remain undisturbed both inside and outside the cave.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

Badger Hole is situated on the east side of Wookey Hole ravine, overlooking the canal serving Wookey Hole paper mill and the River Axe below. The cave lies about 20m above the present valley floor and almost 11m below the overlying plateau. It is one of three major examples in the ravine, others being Rhinoceros Hole and Hyena Den. The mouth of the cave is very large, measuring about 10m wide by 3m high, and forms a sheltered and well-lit entrance area. There is a modern retaining wall at the front of the entrance platform. From the cave mouth two short passages lead back into another large, partially blocked chamber about 6m high. At the back of the chamber is a hole in the cave roof providing direct access to the plateau above. There is a substantial cone of deposit under the aperture in the cave roof. The total length of the cave from the inner chamber to the retaining wall is about 20m. Excavations have taken place in Badger Hole at various times this century. These have uncovered a significant collection of Early Upper Palaeolithic finds including unifacial leaf points and other lithic tools. There is evidence for a Mesolithic burial dating to about 9000 years ago. The cave also served as a burial place in the late Roman period and may have been partially contemporary with the villa site on the hillside above. Significant quantities of undisturbed deposits are considered to survive at the back of the cave as well as on the cave walls and under excavation tip in the cave mouth. The scheduling therefore comprises the whole of the cave and its deposits, continuing in front of the cave as far as the retaining wall.

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

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 13257

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Barrington, N, Stanton, W I, Mendip: The Complete Caves and a View of the Hills, (1977)
Campbell, J B, The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain, (1977)

End of official listing