Ash Tree Cave


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017583

Date first listed: 11-Mar-1991


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

County: Derbyshire

District: Bolsover (District Authority)

Parish: Whitwell

National Grid Reference: SK 51485 76144


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 Palaeolithic caves of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire belong to a major regional group of which Ash Tree is an important example due to the depth of the surviving deposit and the stratigraphic continuity demonstrated between the cave deposits and those of the valley floor outside.


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


Ash Tree Cave is situated north of Hollin Hill, a few kilometres north- west of Creswell Crags and on the south side of the small dry valley of Burhill Wood. It lies level with the existing valley floor and the small cliffs on either side of the valley are no more than 5m high at any point. The cave itself consists of a relatively large entrance chamber, narrowing into a long, sinuous passage and containing backfill from partial excavations carried out between 1934 and the present. These have produced material from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods, but the main significance of the cave lies in the Palaeolithic remains. These include Later Upper Palaeolithic "Creswellian", Earlier Upper Palaeolithic and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts and faunal remains. Some material has yet to be processed from earlier excavations, but it is anticipated that this will add to the Palaeolithic evidence. Remnants of unexcavated deposits survive along the cave walls and substantial remains are still intact underneath tip in the area outside the cave entrance. A considerable depth of deposit outside the cave is indicated by excavation trenches which did not reach bedrock until 6.2m below datum. The monument includes all deposits inside the cave, and outside the cave it includes an area of 6m radius around the mouth of the cave.

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: 13240

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Armstrong, A L, Report on the Excavation of Ash Tree Cave near Whitwell, Derby, (1957)
Campbell, J B, The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain, (1977)
Jenkinson, R D S, Creswell Crags: Late Pleistocene Sites in the East Midlands, (1984)
West, S E, Ashtree Cave, Whitwell, (1959)
Anon,, Notes on Excavations, 1960: Ash Tree Cave, Whitwell, Derbyshire, 1961, Pagination 344

End of official listing