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Historic England Research Records

Goughs Cave

Hob Uid: 194593
Location :
Somerset
Sedgemoor
Cheddar
Grid Ref : ST4670053910
Summary : A cave which has produced one of the largest assemblages of archaeological material dating from the Late Glacial period, as well as significant finds of later date including the Mesolithic skeleton known as "Cheddar Man". The cave was "discovered" and first properly explored in 1890 by Richard Cox Gough, who was searching for a new show cave to compete with others in the area. The cave entrance had been in use previously as a cart shed and a gambler's den. Between 1890 and 1898 much sediment was removed, along with animal remains plus flint and bone artefacts. In 1903, blasting near the entrance resulted in the discovery of Cheddar Man. Early accounts are far from ideal, but the bones seem to have represented a contracted inhumation. Recently obtained radiocarbon dates place the skeleton in the early Mesolithic period. Excavations have occurred intermittently throughout the 20th century, mainly in response to needs to improve public access and presentation of the caves. These have produced a considerable quantity of animal remains, flint implements and other items, including a large block of amber, "batons de commandement", and further human remains. The bulk of the finds seem to relate to use of the cave in the Late Glacial period, circa 13000 to 12000 radicoarbon years bp. The animal bones in particular point to both human and carnivore occupation. Flints, Cheddar Man, and other items point to some Mesolithic activity, while other finds highlight episodes of use in the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods. Among the most significant of the earlier finds are the most recent, recovered during small scale excavations in 1984 and 1986-7. Finds included disarticulated human remains and animal remains, with evidence for cut marks on both; fragments of mammoth ivory marked with linear incisions taken to represent some form of notation; part of a spearhead of mammoth ivory; an antler "baton de commandment"; and another worked piece of amber.
More information : [ST 4666 5386] GOUGH'S CAVERN [G.T.] (Stalactite). (1)

Excavations, 1903 and later, revealed an upper Paleolithic burial, hearths, bone and flint implements, a block of Baltic amber, two 'Batons de Commandemant' etc. The flints were of Creswellian type. The upper deposits contained E.I.A. & R.B. pottery.

Goughs Old Cave, 30' east of the above ST 4668 5388, excavated 1954-8. Much disturbed; but two hearths were found, one associated with Roman & I.A. 'B' pottery, and other with I.A. 'A'. Fragments of several saddle querns were found unstratified, but parts of two upper stones were associated with the latter hearth.

Finds in Goughs Cavern Museum, Weston-Super-Mare Museum, Taunton Mus, and Univ. Mus., Oxford. Roman coins, 1st-4th cent. and possibly later have been found, possibly here or at the Long Hole cave and
slitter [ST 45 S.E. 9]. (2-5)

The entrance to Gough's Cavern is at ST 46705391, and the entrance to Gough's Old Cave is at ST 46785389.

Positioned at 1:2500. (6)

Two items of unusual interest from Gough's Cave (the name which seems now to be adopted for 'Gough's Cavern') are: (a). The skeleton known as 'the Cheddar man' which now has a radio carbon dated of 7130 BC approx, and is thought to be a deliberate interment of the very late Palaeolithic.(7). (b). A bone-point with grouped and purposeful-looking notches, which is thought to be some kind of tally or calculating device. (Good coloured illustration). (7-8)

Excavations in 1927. (9)

Excavations from 1928-1931. (10)

Rescue excavation, 1968. (11)

Additional references (12-13)

Gough's Old Cave - its history. (14)

Late Palaeolithic exploration of horse and red deer at Gough's Cave. (15)

Bird remains. (16)

Human bones. (17)

The remains of 2 children and at least 3 adults were found at Gough's Cave in April-July 1987, during excavations by Lancaster University and the London National History Museum. Possible signs of cannibalism were evident, and a fine collection of artifacts. (18)

Additional references. (19-23)

The block of amber from Gough's Cave is one of only three certain amber finds of Mesolithic date from Britain, the other two sites being Starr Carr and Cresswell Crags. (24)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1960.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Donovan, DT. The Pleistocene Deposits at Gough's Cave, Cheddar, including an account of recent excavations.
Page(s) : 76-101
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 7(2) 1955
Source Number : 10
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : Parry, RF. Excavations at Cheddar.
Page(s) : 46-62
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 76, 1930
Source Number : 11
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details :
Page(s) : 49-60
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13, 1972
Source Number : 12
Source : The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain: a study of man and nature in the Late Ice Age
Source details :
Page(s) : 114-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : II
Source Number : 13
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : Jacobi, RM. The Environment of Man at Cheddar: 11-10,000 years ago.
Page(s) : 3-8, 13
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 126, 1982
Source Number : 14
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Irwin, DJ. Gough's Old Cave - It's History.
Page(s) : 250-266
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1986
Source Number : 15
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Parkin, RA, P Rowley-Conwy and D Serjeantson. Late Palaeolithic Exploitation of Horse and Red Deer at Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 311-330
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1986
Source Number : 16
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Harrison, CJO. Bird Remains from Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 305-310
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1986
Source Number : 17
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Cook, J. Marked Human Bones from Gough's Cave, Somerset.
Page(s) : 275-85
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1986
Source Number : 18
Source : Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society newsletter
Source details :
Page(s) : 10
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 36, October 1987
Source Number : 19
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Donovan, DT. Records, Catalogues and Layers at Gough's Cave.
Page(s) : 116-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1985
Source Number : 3
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Tratman, EK. Gough's Old Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : Jul-21
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9(1), 1961
Source Number : 20
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Collcutt, SN. Analysis of Sediments in Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset and their bearing on the Palaeolithic Archaeology.
Page(s) : 129-40
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1985
Source Number : 21
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Leroi-Gourhan, A. Pollen Analysis of Sediment Samples from Gough's Cave, Cheddar.
Page(s) : 141-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1985
Source Number : 22
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Stringer, CB. The Hominid Remains from Gough's Cave.
Page(s) : 145-52
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1985
Source Number : 23
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Jacobi, R. The History and Literature of Pleistocene Discoveries at Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 102-15
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1985
Source Number : 24
Source : Amber in prehistoric Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 65-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8
Source Number : 25
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Irwin, DJ. The Exploration of Gough's Cave and its Development as a Show Cave.
Page(s) : 95-101
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17(2), 1985
Source Number : 26
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Stanton, WI. Cheddar Gorge and Gough's Cave.
Page(s) : 116-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17(2), 1985
Source Number : 27
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Burleigh, R. Radiocarbon Dates for Human and Animal Bones from Mendip Caves.
Page(s) : 267-74
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17(3), 1986
Source Number : 28
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Currant, AP. The Late Glacial Mammal Fauna of Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 275-285
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17(3), 1986
Source Number : 29
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Beasley, MJ. A Preliminary Report on Incremental Banding as an Indicator of Seasonality in Mammal Teeth from Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 116-28
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18(1), 1987
Source Number : 4
Source : British caving : an introduction to speleology
Source details : [1st edition, 1953]
Page(s) : 200, 240
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 30
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Irwin, DJ. "Jack and Nancy" at Gough's Cave, Cheddar.
Page(s) : 292-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18(2), 1988
Source Number : 31
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Charles, R. Incised Ivory Bone Fragments and other Late Upper Palaeolithic Finds from Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 400-408
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18(3), 1989
Source Number : 32
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Farrant, AR. The Gough's Cave System: Exploration and Reappraisal of the Geomorphology.
Page(s) : Mar-18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19(1), 1991
Source Number : 33
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Branigan, K and R Dearne. Romano-British Usage of the Caves of Cheddar Gorge.
Page(s) : 19-32
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19(1), 1991
Source Number : 34
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Irwin, DJ. Cave Notes: A Photograph of Jack and Nancy Weekes.
Page(s) : 373-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19(3), 1993
Source Number : 35
Source : Antiquity
Source details : Currant, AP, RM Jacobi and CB Stringer. Excavations at Gough's Cave, Somerset 1986-7.
Page(s) : 131-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 63, 1989
Source Number : 36
Source : Antiquity
Source details : Chamberlain, AT. More Dating Evidence for Human Remains in British Caves.
Page(s) : 950-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 70, 1996
Source Number : 37
Source : Late Stone Age hunters of the British Isles
Source details :
Page(s) : 92-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 38
Source : Romano-British cavemen : cave use in Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 100
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19
Source Number : 39
Source : A gazetteer of Romano-British cave sites and their finds
Source details :
Page(s) : 128-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Numismatic chronicle
Source details : Boon, GC.
Page(s) : 231-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1957
Source Number : 40
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Tratman, EK et al. Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset. Rescue Dig, November 1968. Section exposed in 1957.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13(1), 1972
Source Number : 41
Source : The Palaeolithic of Britain and its nearest neighbours : recent trends
Source details : Jacobi, RM. The Lateglacial Archaeology of Gough's Cave at Cheddar.
Page(s) : 75-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : vol.1
Source Number : 42
Source : The Late Glacial in north-west Europe : human adaptation and environmental change at the end of the Pleistocene
Source details : Cook, J. Preliminary report on marked human bones from the 1986-1987 excavations at Gough's Cave, Somerset, England.
Page(s) : 160-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 77
Source Number : 43
Source : Current archaeology
Source details : Charles, R. Creswell, Cheddar and Paviland: caves, cannibals and carnivores.
Page(s) : 131-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 160, 1998
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 GHP 05-APR-66
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Stanton, W I. 1965. Map of Caves of Cheddar Gorge.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Tratman, EK. Problems of the "Cheddar Man", Gough's Cave, Somerset.
Page(s) : Jul-23
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14(1), 1975
Source Number : 8
Source : University of Bristol Spelaeological Society proceedings
Source details : Tratman, EK. A Late Upper Palaeolithic Calculator(?), Gough's Cave, Cheddar, Somerset.
Page(s) : 123-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14(2), 1976
Source Number : 9
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : Parry, RF. Excavations at the Caves, Cheddar.
Page(s) : 102-21
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 74, 1928

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Upper Palaeolithic
Display Date : Upper Palaeolithic
Monument End Date : -10000
Monument Start Date : -40000
Monument Type : Cave
Evidence : Subterranean Feature
Monument Period Name : Early Mesolithic
Display Date : Early Mesolithic
Monument End Date : -7000
Monument Start Date : -10000
Monument Type : Cave, Contracted Inhumation
Evidence : Subterranean Feature, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Cave
Evidence : Subterranean Feature
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Cave
Evidence : Subterranean Feature
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Discovered 1890 and opened to public
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1890
Monument Type : Cave
Evidence : Subterranean Feature

Components and Objects:
Period : Upper Palaeolithic
Component Monument Type : Cave
Object Type : HUMAN REMAINS, ANIMAL REMAINS, LITHIC IMPLEMENT, INSCRIBED OBJECT, UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT, BATON DE COMMANDEMENT, SPEAR
Object Material : Flint, Ivory, Amber, Antler
Period : Early Mesolithic
Component Monument Type : Cave, Contracted Inhumation
Object Type : UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT, LITHIC IMPLEMENT, ANIMAL REMAINS, HUMAN REMAINS
Object Material : Amber, Flint
Period : Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Cave
Object Type : SADDLE QUERN, VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Cave
Object Type : SADDLE QUERN, COIN, VESSEL, BEAD
Object Material : Pottery, Glass

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13203
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13260
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 10398
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 10399
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 45 SE 10
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1157275
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 194587
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : GOUGHS CAVE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1927-01-01
End Date : 1931-12-31
Associated Activities : GOUGHS CAVE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1948-01-01
End Date : 1953-12-31
Associated Activities : GOUGHS OLD CAVE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1954-01-01
End Date : 1958-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 45 SE 10
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1966-04-05
End Date : 1966-04-05
Associated Activities : GOUGHS CAVE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1968-01-01
End Date : 1968-12-31
Associated Activities : GOUGHS CAVE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31