Author Topic: Cave Archaeology  (Read 1162 times)

Offline CharlieE

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Cave Archaeology
« on: June 21, 2018, 01:58:31 pm »
Dear all,

I hope that this is OK to post here..... I am looking for some assistance with a caving project currently being undertaken.

My name is Charlie Enright and I am an archaeologist from the Dyfed Archaeology Trust, based in Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire (You can read more about us here http://www.dyfedarchaeology.org.uk/ ).
The Dyfed Archaeological Trust is one of four Welsh Archaeological Trusts, each of whom maintain a regional Historic Environment Record (HER). Each HER provides a comprehensive catalogue of archaeological and historical sites and finds of all periods throughout their particular region in Wales. As our name suggests, our HER is relevant to the former county of Dyfed in South-West Wales encompassing Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

We have been approved by Cadw to undertake a HER enhancement programme for caves in South-West Wales. Phase 1 has already been completed by a former colleague, which essentially involved an audit of our HER. In doing so we significantly enhanced the record and improved the representation of caves as an archaeological resource within South-West Wales.
We are now moving in to Phase 2 of the project in which we hope to undertake a non-invasive field assessment of a select number of sites. Our field visits will primarily focus on Castlemartin, Caldey Island and Carreg Cennen Castle.
What I am looking for is cavers that are familiar with these areas that may be able to offer some guidance and advice.
If anyone is interested in hearing more and thinks they may be prepared to help then please feel free to email me directly on c.enright@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk.

Many Thanks,

Charlie

Offline Badlad

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2018, 09:49:06 am »
Hi Charlie - welcome to the forum,  This is just the place to find the contacts you require.

In the first instance I suggest you contact the Cambrian Caving Council's Conservation and Access officer, Stuart France.  You can find him on here or via the CCC website.

If I was part of Welsh caving my immediate concern with your project would be how it might lead to restrictions to access or closure of caves to recreational cavers.  It appears from afar that the authorities in Wales, NRW, CADW etc, place very little value on caves as a resource for the sport of caving.  It appears that almost anything else takes a higher priority and this is reflected in the view on access to some great cave systems.  This contrasts sharply with my local area in the north of England where a much higher value is placed on caves and caving by the authorities.  Here the mood is to keep caves open, where cavers can live with archaeology, bats, etc side by side.

I hope your work will improve and enhance the representation of caves in a positive way that works for cavers too.  Good luck.

Offline droid

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2018, 02:51:47 am »
Most cave archaeology I'm aware of involves rock shelters rather than extensive systems.

The situation you are alluding to (Draenen) is pretty unique: an extensive cave system with entrances that are in proximity of industrial remains of archaeological importance. Your local area doesn't contain any site even remotely of that order.

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Offline JoW

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2018, 06:27:55 am »
The BCRA Cave Archaeology group may be of help and they certainly have some active and interested members in Wales
 http://cag.bcra.org.uk

Offline Martin Laverty

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2018, 06:20:17 pm »
droid is correct in observing that Draenen is an exceptional case: as an article by Stuart France in the latest Cambrian Caving Council newsletter [ http://www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/newsletters/2018/May2018.pdf ]  points out , it is under no less than five Scheduled Monuments!
As full a list as we could make up [ http://www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/newsletters/2018/historic-sites.pdf ] lists all caves and mines found to be near scheduled monuments.

badlad's concern is not misplaced: a perception of adverse opinion towards cavers within NRW, Cadw, and the Brecon Beacons NP seems to be driving any exploratory activity (ahem!) underground (pun not intended). The problem may be a lack of cave-aware staff in these organisations, in contrast to the Dales where the BCA's Conservation & Access Officer is employed by Natural England... However, the CCC worked with Menna Bell (then) of the Dyfed Archaeology Trust on Phase 1 of CharlieE's project [ http://www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/newsletters/2017/oct2017.pdf ], Tooth Cave on Gower has been entered via a Scheduled Monument for many years without any apparent problems, and the legacy of Mel Davies is still well-respected, I believe, in Welsh archaeological circles: his successors in the aformentioned now, apparently, caver-averse bodies should reflect that he was a very active discoverer, digger, and explorer of new caves.

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2018, 08:24:35 pm »
I wasn't going to say anything but could we please lose the politics? This is all about conservation, after all, just a bit more general than the cave conservation we are used to, and should be supported - like any academic project to learn more from the fantastic things that are our caves.

Offline mikem

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2018, 07:21:58 pm »
& the ultimate conservation is to close the cave, so you can't have one without the other...

Mike

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2018, 09:28:36 am »
Also a contrast to the Peak District where cavers digging in Eldon Hole and Bull Pit are working closely with archaeologists to identify ancient bones found.  No suggestion of stopping the digs but re-thinking the Eldon one to decide how best to proceed to ensure that nothing is missed or damaged.  Also acknowledged by the powers that be that permission to dig was sought and granted before work started and also that, without the cavers' digs, the bones would never have been discovered and that the remains are very important archaeologically.

DCA hosts regular meetings of the "Underground Conservation Forum" where DCA cavers regularly meet with National Trust, Natural England, Historic England, the Environment Agency and the Derbyshire Bat Group to discuss all caving-related underground issues.  Means we are all singing from the same hymn sheet and potential problems are identified before anything bad happens so cavers don't accidentally do any damage and officialdom is content that important findings will be properly conserved and reported.

It's not rocket science!

Jenny Potts
Acting Secretary DCA

P.S.  I retired in February as DCA Hon. Sec. but we still haven't found a replacement - DCA badly needs a volunteer (or volunteers) to take over so I can retire properly.    ;)

Offline BradW

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2018, 10:12:49 am »
The set up described by Jenny is what is needed. A complication in some areas of Wales (and I imagine it can happen elsewhere) is the actions of a very small number of people who have no regard for any kind of cooperation, either with other cavers or with statutory bodies. The vast majority of cavers in all regions are not a problem.

Offline droid

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Re: Cave Archaeology
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2018, 02:50:19 pm »
That sound like typical Derbyshire pragmatism, like the Derbyshire Key..... ;D
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