Head in the clouds

The area weather forecast for today was dry but cloudy. What it didn’t mention was how low the cloud would be. Fairy Holes is only at about 150 m above Ordnance Datum but we spent the afternoon getting very wet indeed inside the clouds. Fortunately the students were all off site today as they had to be at a fieldwork exercise for a different part of their course. There were only six of us on site so we mostly fitted inside our various caves.

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The only person who had to be outside all day was Pete, who has been working on the new cave he discovered on Thursday. He has cleaned up a vertical section through the deposits that fill it. This shows that most of the soil in the cave is a greyish brown topsoil which doesn’t seem to be very old. Beneath this layer is a much more orange cave earth. I think this means that this cave is likely to have been visible and accessible to people in the Early Bronze Age when burials were taking place in Fairy Holes cave above it. I’m reasonably optimistic that we will get some prehistoric archaeology in this cave too.

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Once it was cleaned and he had drawn this face Pete started to remove the topsoil layer over the area up to 1 metre into the cave. This is a more systematic sounding way of saying ‘as far as he could reach’. So far he has found some animal bone and some small pieces of chert.

Up on the main cave we have had some very welcome help from Tony, Carol and another Pete from Northern Boggarts Caving Club. Pete has been digging in the first chamber of the east cave, while Tony and Carol have been helping to excavate some more of the redeposited backfill from Reginald Musson’s 1946 excavation. They have filled in another missing bit of our story as they have found several pieces of worked chert from about 8 metres into the cave. Musson’s report mentions chert tools in this area of the cave. I think the bits that Tony and Carol have found are some of the waste flakes from the manufacture of those tools.

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Sam and I have been digging the same layer but in the area nearer to the entrance. We are finding quite a bit of animal bone in this layer, although by his account Musson found a lot more. This is also the area where Sam found pottery and cremated bone on Friday and she found another bit of cremated bone towards the end of the day today. There are big hollows in the limestone bedrock of the cave floor here. Wishful thought of the day was that maybe the burials were originally at the bottom of these hollows and therefore some of them may have been missed by Musson and still be there for us to find.

We’ll let you know tomorrow.

Rick

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