Saye'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 46637 53897

Reasons for Designation

Caves with totally undisturbed deposits of late Prehistoric age are exceptionally rare, both in Cheddar Gorge as well as nationally. Saye's Hole contains a considerable thickness of such deposits known to have well-preserved Iron Age levels with extremely rich artefactual and ecofactual evidence. As such, the site offers very high potential for studying the nature and development of occupation in the south-west during the last centuries BC. The presence of metal slags also indicates that the cave may have played an important role in the local metalworking economy at this time.


Saye's Hole lies slightly above present ground level in the southern cliffs of the gorge, behind the stream known as the Risings. The cave consists of a wide entrance chamber 14m long, narrowing towards the back where it connects with a deep cave system. In front of the cave is a small platform area about 3m wide which is delimited by a talus slope. The lowermost edge of the talus has been partly disturbed by recent building work. The entrance was also used as a tearoom early this century but this has not greatly affected the deposits. A small excavation trench (1 x 1.5 x 2.65m deep) was cut in 1986 beneath the drip line of the entrance arch. The sounding revealed evidence of at least two phases of Iron Age activity, which, due to the similarity of material in each, were not thought to be significantly separated in time. These include slag, iron and copper alloy artefacts, butchered bones and sherds of pottery similar to first century BC Glastonbury-3 Ware. It is thought this pottery may represent a local tradition that predated and possibly influenced the Glastonbury industry. Possible evidence of structures exists in two placed limestone slabs associated, in the lower archaeological layer, with dense lenses of hearth material comprising both ash and charcoal underlain by baked sediment. The excavation reached bedrock at 2.65m below the surface. It is conceivable that pockets of earlier deposit would survive in the undulating rock floor. The monument includes all deposits within the cave extending 14m from the entrance, and outside the cave includes the area up to the edge of the modern building development.

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
Collcutt, S N, Barton, R N E, Brown, L, Laws, , , C, Saye's Hole, Cheddar, Somerset: A New Late Iron Age Site, (1987)
Plus small-scale plan (Pag: 16-23), Stanton, W I, The Survey Of Cheddar Caves, (1953)


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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