Soldier's Hole, Cheddar Gorge


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


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

Sedgemoor (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 46862 54008

Reasons for Designation

Palaeolithic caves and rockshelters 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. As such caves and rock shelters are 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. The Soldier's Hole example is regarded as significant for producing not only Later Upper Palaeolithic artefacts, but also artefacts of the Earlier Upper palaeolithic, including associated faunal material.


Soldier's Hole is a shallow, wide entranced cave situated on the south side of the gorge, 40m up from the road and 65m below the plateau. The entrance and side-tunnel contain spoil left over from excavations carried out by R. F. Parry (1925-29). The cave has produced Neolithic, Bronze Age and Romano-British material, but its main significance lies in the Upper Palaeolithic remains. Seven stone artefacts and an ivory awl from the Earlier Upper Palaeolithic were found during the original excavations, and thirteen flint artefacts of the Later Upper Palaeolithic, implying two distinct occupation horizons. In addition, Pleistocene faunal remains, radiocarbon dated from more than 35,000 years ago to c.10,000 years ago have been recovered. It is doubtful whether the areas under the spoil were ever fully excavated, and it is anticipated that these and other pockets of undisturbed deposits still remain in situ. The monument includes all deposits within the interior of the cave and outside the cave entrance as far as the steep break of slope down into the gorge.

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:


Books and journals
Jackson, J W, The Vertebrate and Molluscan Fauna of Soldier's Hole, (1931)
Bramwell, D, 'at Soldier's Hole, Cheddar' in Report On A Collection Of Bird Bones From The 1929 Excavations, , Vol. 104, (1960)
Gowlett, J, Hedges, R, Law, I, Perry, C, 'Archaeometry' in Radiocarbon Dates From The Oxford AMS System: Archaeometry List 4, , Vol. 28, (1986)
Campbell, JB, Hypothetical section of the Soldier's Hole deposits, based upon Parry's description and the author's observations,
Pagination 508-24, Ambers, J and Matthews, K and Burleigh, R, British Museum Natural Radiocarbon Measurements 18, (1985)
Parry, R F, Excavations at Cheddar, (1931)


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

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