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 Derbyshire form an important regional grouping
of which Fox Hole Cave is a significant example owing to the well-
preserved organic artefacts and the survival of in situ deposits. It is
also one of the few northern sites where human activity can be directly
dated to the Late Glacial interstadial.
Fox Hole Cave is situated on the steep north slope of High Wheeldon
Hill, less than 30m below the summit and approximately 100m above the
current valley floor. The cave consists of a passage opening out into
several chambers (Entrance, First and Main), and a second deeper series
including the Bear Chamber. The entrance passage and upper chamber are
the main areas of archaeological interest. A number of partial
excavations, carried out between 1928 and the early 1980s, have produced
Mesolithic, Neolithic, Beaker, Bronze Age and Roman material, but it is
the cave's Palaeolithic context that makes it of particular interest.
Later Upper Palaeolithic artefacts of flint and antler have been found
in association with charcoal, denoting a hearth, and bones of horse and
red deer, split and therefore indicative of human activity. Two recent
radiocarbon dates of c.12000BP (Before Present) have been obtained from
antler spearpoints from the cave.
The monument includes all the deposits within the cave, and includes the
flat area outside the cave entrance.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.