Savory's Hole


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.

Mendip (District Authority)
St. Cuthbert Out
National Grid Reference:
ST 52863 48811

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 21 sites in Somerset form the densest and one of the most important concentrations of this type of monument in the country. Although parts have been excavated, Savory's Hole is important for the in situ survival of substantial archaeological deposits outside the cave entrance, which retain high potential for preserving evidence of human activity in the Late Glacial and early Postglacial periods.


Savory's Hole lies in the upper valley of Ebbor Gorge, 2m above the valley floor and 56m below the main plateau, on the right bank facing east. It consists of a low shelter, c.4m long and 5m wide, with a roof c.1.5m high at the entrance rising to c.2m towards the back of the cave. The cave was partially excavated by the Mendip Nature Research Committee in 1913 and 1919 and by the Prehistoric Society in 1958. The excavations revealed an upper earthy level containing human bones, possibly burials, of uncertain age which overlay several feet of thermoclastic scree resting on a stalagmite floor. Split long bones of large mammals indicate Later Upper Palaeolithic or Mesolithic activity in the cave. Although the cave interior is now largely excavated, considerable quantities of deposit survive in the talus which extends 7m either side of the cave entrance and a similar distance towards the valley bottom. The monument therefore includes the cave and all surviving deposits stretching from the cave entrance in an arc of radius 7m.

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
Balch, H E, Mendip - the Great Cave of Wookey Hole, (1914)
Barrington, N, Stanton, W I, Mendip: The Complete Caves and a View of the Hills, (1977)
Campbell, J B, The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain, (1977)
McBurney, C B M, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Report On The First Season's Fieldwork On Br.U.P Cave Deposits., , Vol. 25, (1959), 260-69


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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