CPAT Regional Historic Environment Record The following information is from the
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Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 102132 Trust : Clwyd Powys Community : Cefnmeiriadog NGR : SJ01527102 Site Type (preferred type first) : Palaeolithic Cave occupation Legal Protection : scheduled ancient monument
Description : Cave previously explored by Boyd Dawkins. Recent excavations by S Green (NMW) (PRN 39919) has revealed evidence of human occupation dating back in excess of 128000 years. Probably Neanderthal man present also. Excavations continue.
Artefact-rich debris flows examined in 1984. Also new and undisturbed entrance located. Artefacts included hand axes, discoidal cores, Levallois flakes, scrapers and struck flakes. 1985 season produced first hominid find of unworn molar from immature individual, perhaps from 8 to 12 years old, found in previous seasons (Green, S 1985, 25-6).
1987 Excavations focussed on new entrance and deposits in cave. Entrance deposits 6m deep, palaeolithic artefact-bearing levels at base (Green, S 1987, 39).
Cave occupied 250,000 years ago by populations of Neanderthal lineage. Stone implements, animal and human bones found. Fauna include deer, bison, rhinoceros, horse, wolf, fox, hare and bird bones. Bones from adult and three children also found (Green, S 1988, 51-2).
Scheduling revised 24/8/90.
Finds in NMW. Lithic numbers taken only from first report (Green 1984). (CPAT Lithics, 2001)
Brick structures at the entrance were apparently created to act as an ammunition store in WW2. The cave is as described by previous sources. Apparently some in-situ deposits survive below ground but this was not checked, although the access doors to the interior were open. The degree of past excavation at the entrance to the site is not now readily apparent, but can be readily seen on old site photographs. (Caves Scheduling Enhancement Project, CPAT site visit 11/2/2009)
There is an extensive literature on this cave for which see Chamberlain & Williams 2000.
Initially excavated by Boyd Dawkins, Mrs Williams-Wynn and the Rev D R Thomas, who recovered various mammal bones, subsequently by the Rev Thomas and Prof. Hughes who recovered stone implements and a human tooth (Dawkins 1874, 287). The finds described by Prof. McKenny Hughes (Hughes, 1887) are apparently in the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge. (Oldham, 1991, 3)
Ebbs' website provide the following information: An entrance about 3m wide and 2m high leads through two doors to a single passage running east into the hill. A trench in the main passage and several short passages on the right have been excavated. The most easterly of these passages leads to a new second entrance (not shown on plan above). The cave is walled and securely gated. Despite being designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1923, the cave was requisitioned for wartime use in 1940. The floor was levelled for the placement of duck boards, upon which were stored land-mines and depth charges. An inner and outer wall built into the entrance, created a guard chamber once equipped with a coke stove. Source: Neanderthals in Wales: Pontnewydd and the Elwy Valley Caves (2012).
It was originally excavated by T. McKenny Hughes and Rev. D.R. Thomas in 1871 who found amongst the animal bones, remains of cave bear, grizzly bear and rhinoceros. It was subsequently excavated by Boyd-Dawkins, author of Cave Hunting, in 1874, who paid labourers by the ton excavated. Despite this, he still managed to find the only evidence at that time of Palaeolithic man in North Wales. A major dig between 1978 and 1995 by the National Museum of Wales proved the human remains to be 225,000 years old. The cave is the most northerly of only two such sites in Britain. Remains of an adult and two children were found. As a bonus, the Boyd-Dawkins waste tips were re-examined and found to contain various items of interest including several stone hand-axes. Other remains include bones of lion, rhino, bison and bear. (https://sites.google.com/site/cavesofnortheastwales/, accessed December 2014) (Hankinson, 2015).