Scapula Dig


Well-known member
Recently myself and a friend at uni have started digging a shakehole in south wales. It is our first proper digging as a collective (cardiff Lithic Investigation Team) and we thought it would be good to document some progress for all to see on here (progress also being documented here ).

After finding the hole, checking the British geological survey and cave registry we had a chat over the phone to the landowner and the started digging (not all on the same day )
(The hole in the shakehole after my foot went through it. was a feet deep)
the first digging day was a lot of removal of spoil, brambles and rubbish from the hole. we followed the water down through lots of old glass bottles and mud and rocks and eventually found a ledge of solid bedrock about 5foot below the surface. we dug under this and found a small area of blank space and eventually wriggled in and saw a corner with a muddy tube leading off. however the route to it was tight and muddy and nobody wanted to committ that much.

we used a tripod made out of some discared fence rails and some old rope to haul a bucket out (adblue container with hole cut in it).
(myself in the hole on the first digging day with appropite tools but missing gloves (broken glass really cuts well)).

(a view down the hole after the first day.)

(the hole on the surface after the first day)

we left to warm up and then a week or so later retuerned to dig a second time.

some of the wall had slumped but this was quickly removed and we regained the state of play from the first day quickly. the water flowing down the walls was slighty increased and once i got round the corner to look at the tub going off i found it sumped instead.
so we decieed to attack the floor of the shaft and began hauling buckets of muck out of the dig. this worked well with water draining through the slop into boulders. this clogged often and need much attacking with a crowbar to keep the dig less lake like. soon we pulled some larger rocks out and the mud seemed to be slightly less disgusting. after day 2 the shaft was now about 11 feet deep and the tripod was working well as ever.

the plan moving forward is to continue digging down into the mud and following the pockets of blank space that appear. and trying to shore up the walls of the shaft as these are mostly made of mud .

(the state of the surface after the 2nd digging trip.. yes I am aware of the weird corrugated roofing behind me lmao)


Active member
Likewise - good to see other people putting info about their digs on here, especially with some photos. Good luck with that one.
The stuff I've posted about digging on Portland has resulted in people getting in touch and coming along to help so definitely worth it to recruit more bodies if nothing else.


yes I am aware of the weird corrugated roofing behind me lmao
I'm sure you are aware, but that's almost certainly asbestos and should be disposed of appropriately. You can take small quantities to your local tip, but it should be double bagged. You're best keeping it damp too and avoid breaking it any more than you have to, to limit dust.

Also, don't underestimate the need for shoring up the first section of your shaft until you're into decent rock. It would be a great shame to get buried! A scaffolding frame, with board's behind is quick and easy and will last plenty long enough to see if the dig is going to go. It can be upgraded later or removed, depending on how you get on and what resources you have available (or need to reclaim for your next ptoject).

Good luck!:dig::dig::dig:


Well-known member

An update from Scapula

We have Installed a shaft with some scaffolding and timber. After the Christmas weather collapsed the sides in.

Unfortunately this has filled up the dug section under the limestone roof . Another few trips to go to empty the sludge out.

The dig continues


Well-known member
If you have any scaff and boards to donate we can make ours look like that soon !!
You will have to scavenge your own - second hand scaff from scrapyards (and you will still find Tony Donovan got there before you). Sometimes old boards are just abandoned on the roadside.

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Darn lucky with our digs. We got 900mm twin walled pipes from Hinkley Point C project. About £3,000 worth. Used as inspection pits but for single use only. At Vurley we had 60m of scaffold poles donated. Plus the big concrete pipes for 7m of entrance shaft. They were only in the next field. Look on Facebook Market place for local stuff. Often stuff left over from projects on there.