Lassie vs. Mrs Tiggywinkle

This all started at dinnertime today. We were sitting on the platform outside the main cave drinking coffee and trying to guess the species of this largish bone Pete had just found on the new cave (wild pig was the favourite) when a roe deer came crashing through the trees at the bottom of the slope.

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Shortly after this we realised we were being watched, turned round and found a large blond Alsatian staring into the cave with that tongue hanging out head on one side expression that dogs use to fool you that they are thinking.

Once he had sniffed us all hopefully and wandered around a bit we realised that he was lost. We tried ‘Go home, there’s a good boy!’ in bright and encouraging tones but the only result was that he looked at us as if to say ‘are you my new mummy and daddy?’ Then his mate turned up. His mate was a mouthy Jack Russell and was clearly the boss dog of the pair. Terriers of any kind and small holes are not a good combination. Not wanting to have to spend hours caving after someone else’s dog we encouraged them both to move along. This worked as well as you might expect but they did condescend to do some exploring of the wood around the cave and we were all able to go back to work.

Josh and I were surveying up from the caves to the top of the wood. This was so that we could relate our cave survey to known points on the OS National Grid. I was on my own hammering in wooden pegs for survey points when I realised that Lassie and Jack were back with us. The Alsatian was very excited about something in the undergrowth. I assumed it was a stick until he started running around in circles with a rolled up hedgehog hanging from his mouth. The Jack Russell immediately barged in and stole it from him, before dropping it with a yelp after getting a nose full of prickles. He then demonstrated that learning from experience is not a dog thing by repeatedly returning to the attack, giving me a very good view of what an effective defence hedgehog spines are. Even though the hedgehog was winning I decided that spending all afternoon being hassled by a determined terrier was probably not a good thing. I put on my best alpha dog voice and after about six repetitions of ‘DROP IT!’ they finally got the message and vanished off up the hill in a bit of a sulk.

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Elsewhere on site proper work was going on. Vast quantities of mud have been shifted by Tony and Carol who were working by the vertical section at the end of Musson’s excavation. As this photo shows, the centre of the cave floor follows a natural fissure in the limestone and so it is much deeper here. This undisturbed cave fill included some animal bone but no signs of Bronze Age human presence, perhaps not surprisingly at this depth into the cave. All that remains to be done now is to amend our existing drawing of this face to include the extra depth and then to take samples for pollen and other environmental evidence through the depth of the deposit.

The other three caves are also fast reaching the point where all that is left to do is drawing and sampling. This is a good thing, as the dig has to end on Friday. Realistically this leaves us tomorrow for any final excavation and Friday for tidying up and filling in the holes. Tomorrow is likely to be a very busy day.

Rick

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