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Dog Holes Cave

Hob Uid: 41539
Location :
Lancashire
Lancaster
Warton
Grid Ref : SD4833073030
Summary : A shaft in limestone pavement, comprising a rectangular entrance leading to a passage and chambers, located on the west side of Warton Crag. Exploration by JW Jackson in 1909-13 recovered quantities of human and animal bones, the former regarded as mainly Neolithic, but some may be later, perhaps Roman. Artefacts include some pre-Roman pottery, possibly Beaker. Roman finds include potsherds, an intaglio brooch, a balance, iron knives, some iron slag lumps which may represent evidence of iron smelting, and whetstones. A hammer stone, bone pins, a bone piercer and a weaving comb are regarded as Iron Age. A military-style bronze belt fitting of Roman date is said to have come from the cave, but this cannot be confirmed. Part of a Neolithic stone axe was apparently found on a ledge in the cave in 1967 (Bolton Museum accession number L.5.1967), associated with a chert flake plus human and animal bones. The cave is scheduled.
More information : [] Dog Holes [TI]. (1)

2. Dog Holes Cave, Warton Crag: This cave is situated on the western side of Warton Crag and lies 150 and 200 ft. above sea level on a sloping "pavement" of limestone dipping NNW at an angle of ten degrees. Not far from the cave is a flat area covered with a good depth of soil ..... where a number of circular depressions occur, which have been considered by several persons as former "pit dwellings."

The present entrance to the Dog Holes Cave is by a vertical shaft from the general level of the "pavement". The mouth is roughly rectangular in shape and measures 7 ft. by 8 ft. at the surface. The bottom of the shaft, when first examined, was about 13ft. from the surface, and consisted of a mass of debris sloping down on two sides into passages to the north and southwest. The debris on the SW side sloped sharply for nearly twenty feet into a chamber called the Swirl Hole, from its waterworn appearance and probable origin. From the Swirl Hole a passage consisting of 3 chambers ran in a SW direction. These were named West Fissure, Bone Chamber and Upper Chamber. The total length of these three chambers is 70 ft., and the length, from the West Fissure to the shaft about 30 ft. At the end of the Upper Chamber the cave terminates abrubtly, but excavation may extend it.

The north part of the cave, called the North Passage, consists of a moderately wide passage running NNW for 30ft., then almost due north for a further 15 ft. The roof is very low toward the lower end, and here a narrow fissure, some 16ft. in length, strikes off in an easterly direction. The roof of this fissure was found to be only 2-3 ft from the surface. The floors of the various chambers and passages of the cave consist of a stiff brown clay, containing water worn stones in which large limestone blocks are embedded.

The present entrance is probably that used by the cave's former inhabitant's. Before excavations began in the Bone Chamber the floor extended to within a few feet of the roof.

Human and animal bones were first obtained, from the Bone Chamber of Dog Hole Cave, in October 1907, but on July 19th 1909, with the permission of Mr. E. B. Dawson, of Lancaster, excavation was commenced. Digging was continued in the summer of 1910 and a final season's excavation took place between May and June 1912. Since then the estate has changed ownership and the cave entrance has been walled up.

Two periods of occupation of Dog Holes cave are evident from the remains recovered apart from the cave earth deposit of the Pleistocene Age, which yielded extinct rodents and snail shells. The large numbers of human remains found in this cave (representing a score or more individuals) seen to indicate that the Bone Chamber, at least, was used for burial purposes. All the bones were discovered imbedded in the cave earth which contained the extinct rodents and snails. It is reasonable to suppose that the human remains were buried in this cave earth, and that the numerous animal remains in association were propitiatory gifts, and all these remains are indicative of Neolithic or later times. Taking the single dolichocephalic skull which was measureable and the limb bones from these burials "it seems reasonable to suppose that Dog Holes was used as a sepulchre by Neolithic peoples as at Perthi Chwareu and cefn caves and at Gop, near Prestatyn. A fragment of rude handmade pottery, 1 1/4" x 1", was found in the Bone Chamber. It is a fairly good thin ware of the "drinking cup or beaker type" type, and is the only specimen of Beaker pottery to have been found in Lancashire (5) The outer surface is ornamented by a number of parallel lines showing the characteristic cord-pattern, enclosing a narrow area decorated by a trellis design.

The second and last period of occupation of Dog Holes cave is that represented by the Romano British relics found in the surface soil especially at the foot of the entrance shaft, where a hearth was situated, around which is evidence of a dwelling or hiding place for no short period. The fragments of pottery, assigned by Mr A.G.Wright, of Colchester Museum to the 1st century A.D., the numerous animal bones, both wild and domestic, strewn round the hearth, and the few personal objects like the antler and the iron weaving combs, iron sickle and knives, bronze button and the binding from a bronze sword scabbard which recalls the 19th century find of an iron sword with bronze hilt and scabbard "found under a heap of stones at Worton..." [Lancs 18 SE 5], found in the cave, indicate some independent and hostile Britons driven to the uplands by the Roman advance, and existing, apart from some agriculture, by raids in search of plunder, such as the pair of Roman bronze balances found during the 1910 season of the excavations. These are dated by Dr. C. H. Read, of the British Museum as "probably of late Roman date (4th to 5th century A.D.)." (2-6)

Scheduled ancient monument. (7)

Further reference. (8)

Part of a Langdale axe was found on a ledge in Dog Holes Cave in 1967
(Bolton Museum L.5.1967). Associated with a chert flake and human, sheep and frog bones. (9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1919
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : The Lancashire Naturalist, New Series Vol.2, Nos 14,15,19 and 23, 1909 to February 1910, pp. 85-90, 91; p217-222; 323 to 332 (J Wilfrid Jackson)
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 10
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : Penney, SH. Romano-British Iron Extraction in N Lancashire
Page(s) : 59-61
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 83, 1983
Source Number : 11
Source : Romano-British cavemen : cave use in Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 92
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19
Source Number : 12
Source : A gazetteer of Romano-British cave sites and their finds
Source details :
Page(s) : 76-8
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details : Jackson, JW. Preliminary Report on the Exploration of "Dog Holes" Cave, Warton Crag, near Carnforth, Lancashire.
Page(s) : Jan-32
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 27, 1909
Source Number : 4
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details : Jackson, JW. Further Report on the Explorations at Dog Holes, Warton Crag...
Page(s) : 59-81
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 28, 1910
Source Number : 5
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details : Jackson, JW. Report on the recent explorations at Dog Holes, Warton Crag.
Page(s) : 99-130
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 30, 1912
Source Number : 6
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : Jackson, JW. Report on the Recent Explorations at Dog Holes, Warton Crag
Page(s) : 55-8
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 12, 1912
Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : List of Ancient Monuments, 1953, p.62 (Ministry of works).
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Corr 6" (R.A.C. Lowndes, 28.5.60)
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8a
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 55-58
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13, 1913
Source Number : 9
Source : Contrebis : bulletin of archaeology and local history for Lancashire and the north west
Source details :
Page(s) : 44
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 6, 1978

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Cave, Shaft
Evidence : Subterranean Feature
Monument Period Name : Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Cave, Human Remains, Shaft
Evidence : Subterranean Feature
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Cave, Shaft
Evidence : Subterranean Feature
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Cave, Shaft
Evidence : Subterranean Feature

Components and Objects:
Period : Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Cave, Shaft
Object Type : HUMAN REMAINS, ANIMAL REMAINS, AXEHEAD
Object Material : Stone
Period : Bronze Age
Component Monument Type : Cave, Human Remains, Shaft
Object Type : ANIMAL REMAINS, VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Cave, Shaft
Object Type : WEAVING COMB, PIN, HAMMERSTONE, HUMAN REMAINS, ANIMAL REMAINS
Object Material : Bone, Stone
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Cave, Shaft
Object Type : ANIMAL REMAINS, VESSEL, HUMAN REMAINS, INTAGLIO, BROOCH, BALANCE, KNIFE, SLAG
Object Material : Pottery, Bronze, Iron

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : LA 84
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SD 47 SE 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 41540
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : DOG HOLES
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1909-01-01
End Date : 1912-12-31