Rowberrow Cavern, Mendip Forest


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011926

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1991


Ordnance survey map of Rowberrow Cavern, Mendip Forest
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Sedgemoor (District Authority)

Parish: Shipham

National Grid Reference: ST 45954 58022


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. Rowberrow Cavern is regarded as important for its rare Palaeolithic hearth material and the very extensive nature of the remaining deposits both inside and outside the cave.


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


Rowberrow Cavern is a wide-entranced cave with an extensive platform outside that is thought to be a now collapsed extension of the cave. The cave is 6.5m wide at the entrance and continues as a gradually narrowing passage for 25m. There is a side passage leading from the left side of the main tunnel. Outside the entrance is a level platform consisting mainly of collapse material and ending in a talus. The platform is partly overlain by excavation spoil and is bisected by a narrow excavation trench, 2-3m wide and 20m long, which runs from the edge of the talus to the cave mouth. Inside the cave mouth is a deep rectangular excavation trench cut into the entrance deposits. Excavations carried out by Taylor between 1920 and 1926 revealed beneath a `cemented floor' a 2m spread of Palaeolithic hearth material, including flint artefacts. Importantly, this was recorded as continuing into the unexcavated deposits towards the back of the cave. Also recorded from higher levels in the cave were Iron Age and Roman remains. The monument includes all deposits inside the cave from the entrance to 25m into the interior, and outside the cave includes the deposits of the platform.

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: 13206

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Taylor, H, Fourth Report On Rowberrow Cavern, (1925)
Taylor, H, Rowberrow Cavern, (1922)
Taylor, H, 'being the fifth report on the cave' in Percy Sladen Memorial Fund Excavations at Rowberrow Cavern, 1925, , Vol. 2, (1926)
Pagination 40-50, Taylor, H, Third Report On Rowberrow Cavern, (1924)
Taylor, H, Second Report On Rowberrow Cavern, 1923, Pagination 130-4

End of official listing