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Excavations

Kents Cavern has been home to several recent excavations led by teams from Universities of Durham, Sheffield and Oxford. All the excavations held at the caves are research projects which adhere to the guidelines set by the statutory bodies such as Historic England and Natural England. Mostly importantly, excavations help improve our knowledge of Kents Cavern which is why we like to keep everyone as up to date as possible.

During the next year we will have more ongoing excavations focusing on a (re)discovery of a Kents Cavern entrance. We'll keep you updated on what's, found but if you'd like to know more then check out last years findings below... 

June 2015

Kents Cavern was home to a team of archaeologists lead by Rob Dinnis (Uni. Oxford). They commenced explorations of a blocked up cave entrance on the Kents Cavern site. 

Before any excavations could begin the team had to get to work knocking down the wall covering the entrance. Even with high powered tools this was still a long process of extremely hard work. There was success and after a while a section of the wall was removed. Only to reveal up to a metre’s worth of concrete behind the decades old wall…

With the concrete removed the team set about examining the deposit behind it. A section of untouched intact cave earth was discovered, as well as an empty hidden bottle! The archaeologists set to work cleaning back and documenting what they had found. 

After examining the deposits behind the wall, the team decided to go ahead with plans to open up a trench at the base of the wall. After much speculation, Dr Chris Proctor, the team’s geologist, confirmed that the trench contained even more ancient sediments.

With the ancient deposits in the trench, the team now had a complete sequence of sediments showing the geological history of the cave. Time to take down the rest of the wall. Hard work and a few surprises finally culminated in the entrance being revealed! The archaeologists found that the Victorian and 1930s excavators had left at least two metres of unexplored deposits. The meticulous process of excavation was now well under way.

Good news – the entrance deposits contain bone! The team uncovered several bear bones, most likely from the same animal. Bone can be dated using radiocarbon dating, so will be vital in establishing when the cave entrance was/was not accessible to humans (and bears).

The wall deposit has not been fully excavated and remains, for the moment, untouched. BUT the team plans to return June 2016 to resume digging. Who knows what they might find.