Ossum's Cave


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011919

Date first listed: 18-Apr-1991


Ordnance survey map of Ossum's Cave
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)

Parish: Grindon

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 09587 55753


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

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. Caves and rockshelters 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 Palaeolithic caves of Staffordshire form a small but significant regional group of which the monument at Ossum's Cave is an important example owing to the good survival of the talus deposits and the preservation of rare faunal remains.


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


Ossum's Cave, situated on the west side of the Manifold Valley, consists of a narrow phreatic passage which slopes steeply downwards and is flooded 5m beyond the entrance. It has a small exterior platform with banked deposits on either side and a steep talus in front of the cave suggesting a major continuation of the cave deposits. A limestone block on the right of the entrance perhaps indicates a former extension of the cave mouth. Between this block and the cave wall is the remains of a side-passage sloping up towards the concavity known as Ossum's Eyrie. Most of the deposits within the cave were removed during excavations carried out by the Orpheus Caving Club and D. Bramwell (1954-6), but there are still major deposits outside the cave which have been partly sampled by a 6.4m long trench through the platform talus. Amongst the finds recovered in the excavations were Upper Palaeolithic flint artefacts in apparent association with charcoal and the bones of reindeer. Although the bones showed no obvious traces of burning or cutmarks, they occurred in the same layer (Layer C) as the flint artefacts and have been radiocarbon dated to about 10,500 BP (Before Present). There is probably little material left inside the cave, unless deposits survive in the deeper flooded areas. However, the talus and areas of excavation spoil outside the entrance are thought to be undisturbed and offer considerable potential. The monument includes all the deposits within the cave, and outside the cave includes an area of 10.5m radius from the cave entrance.

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: 13218

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bramwell, D, Third Report On Excavations At Ossom's Cave, (1956)
Bramwell, D, Second Report On The Excavation At Ossom's Cave, (1955)
Bramwell, D, Report On Work At Ossom's Cave For 1954, (1954)
Scott, K, 'Studies in the Upper Palaeolithic of Britain and NW Europe' in Man in Britain in the Late Devensian; evidence from Ossom's Cave, (1986)

End of official listing