Wednesday, 31 August 2011

An unexpected Cat Hole

IT housekeeping all done - so plenty of space for lots more pictures! This week's blog was intended to be a couple of castles but a trip out on Monday led to Parc Cwm in the Gower and on to  the Cathole cave.

 The cave is well hidden but some kind soul left a clue..... The (fairly well trodden) earth path leaves the main tarmac park through Parc Cwm and disappears into the trees and undergrowth.

A second leaf arrow indicated the even more well hidden path to the right which leads to the cave. The cave entrance forms a narrow cleft, wider at the base, which goes deep into the rock.

It is (of course) pitch dark in there and not having planned this find I was lacking a torch. However the camera flash came to the rescue, disclosing an intriguing interior with some dark passages leading even further back. There were a couple of bays, both seem to have passages.

The cave is well known for Late Glacial finds ( approx 10,000BCE). Some finds may be even earlier - 26000BCE. The cave appears to have been inhabited by  a variety of creatures, red fox, arctic fox and brown bear.  Other animal finds include   mammoth, woolly rhino, red deer and giant deer.

Later in it's history the cave was used by Mesolithic hunters and later still by Bronze Age peoples who left remains of burial urns. Personally I'd have found those dark passageways behind me very unnerving!

As I mentioned, the visit to the cave was unplanned ( didn't even know it was there) but it overshadowed the intended objective - the Parc le Breos  long barrow which was rather an anti- climax. Heavily restored it is a chambered long barrow dating from around 3800BCE.

Some 40 human remains were found within, some of which appeared to be excarnated, some not. It does seem possible that the rituals surrounding the burials may have incorporated the use of the cave. This theory is strengthened by the discovery of late  ice age animal bones - gathered up with the exposed human remains from the cave perhaps?

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