Kent’s Cavern Show Cave

Kent’s Cavern Show Cave in Torquay which I visited in September this year is said to be one of the most important sites for Paleolithic Archaeology. Geologically the caves were most probably formed around two and a half million years ago in limestone arising from the time the region lay beneath the sea (385 million years ago) There are good examples of cave formations Stalac(tites)(mites), flowstone etc. The cave opened to the public in 1880 but much exploration took place prior to this, as early as 1571 (William Petre) whose name is engraved on a stalagmite along with more recent explorers. (I do wish they wouldn’t do that!)

Here is an explorer of the Victorian Era examing his finds … (Note tha hat and jacket – probably not a Red Rose member!)

Two men were responsible for the exploration and excavation of the cave Father John MacEnery and William Pengelly. These men - to their credit, were much more painstaking than some of their counterparts who used explosives to uncover archaeology. Evidence has been found of human presence in and around the caves from the earliest Europeans (Homo Heidelbergensis) whose 500,000 year old flint hand axes have been found in the caves, Neanderthal flint implements from between 100,000 and 30,000 years ago and Homo sapiens, evidenced by a jawbone around 35,000 years old when these modern humans probably used the cave.



Use of the cave continued through the last ice age around 12,500 years ago when sea levels rose and
Torbay on which Kent’s Cavern sits was flooded. About 5,000 years ago Hunter Gatherers began to farm the landscape and the caves were used initially it is thought for burying the dead and latterly during the manufacture of bronze tools. During the Iron Age about 2,500 years ago evidence suggests use as a temporary shelter with finds including pottery and artifacts associated with wool weaving.

As a show cave experience, the interest for me was in the archaeology found there and the exhibits. Worth a visit if you are down that way. The coastal path runs alongside and I walked back to Torquay beside Daddy hole Plain taking its name from a 19th Century cliff landslide which was attributed to the devil, or Daddy to use the local name. Excellent views and a good walk back.

And another, from more distant times, cooking the dinner …

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