As expected, the shelter we built yesterday did not survive the great storm. As the wind was showing no signs of calming down, we tidied the remains away and decided to work without a roof. Moving from the entrance into the depths of the main cave today felt like re-enacting the long tracking tunnel shot in The Great Escape. Around every corner was someone working on one or another of the processes needed to keep the dig running.
At the cave mouth James and Ant were drawing a plan of the exposed limestone bedrock outside the cave. Behind them, Scott and Chloe plan the rubble layer we think may be the remains of a dry-stone wall across the cave.
About six metres further into the cave Dan and Tom were removing some of the backfill left from the Musson excavations. Further in still was Curtis, you can just see his helmet in the back of this shot, sitting on a mound of backfill from the 1940s excavations.
He was sieving the spoil produced by Anna and Olaf working beyond him as they cleaned up the vertical section at the end of the area excavated by Musson. This, about 16 metres in, is as deep as we plan to go into the cave. Cleaning up the vertical face of the deposits here should allow us to see the whole sequence of sediments in the cave.
We have had lots of animal bone out of all these deposits but we have had two other exciting finds today. This is the first one. It is a sherd of prehistoric pottery from the section that Tom and Dan are digging. Obviously, it needs a bit of a clean, but I am fairly sure that this is a bit of a Beaker. This pottery style belong to the very end of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age, around 2200-2000 BC. If I am right, this dates the activity in the cave a bit earlier than we previously suspected. Musson only recorded Collared Urn pottery from his dig, which is Early Bronze Age in date but a bit later than Beaker pottery.
This shot of the cave from lower down the hill nicely shows how we came to make the other exciting discovery today. The working area we have is small and crowded and every so often someone turns around incautiously and some inconveniently round bit of kit rolls away and down the slope. Empty buckets are particularly prone to doing this, we seem to have to fetch about four of those back per day. The other day while Pete was down the hill in pursuit of a runaway bucket he saw what he thought was the blocked entrance to another cave. You can just see this in the photo as the brown patch on the near slope.
After a bit more investigation today we think that he was right. At some time in the past there must have been a lower entrance on the same fissure line as Fairy Holes cave but about 50 metres lower down the valley. Tomorrow we are going to have a more systematic look at these deposits and start to see if this cave was used in prehistory too.