Afon Meirchion Cave, Lower


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Source of original 1964 survey:
'Some Caves of North Wales'. Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Series
Four, No1, June 1966



Length: About 320m SJ022694 River Elwy

Apart from the entrance passage and Bar Cavern near the end, much of the cave is a flat-out crawl.

Active in wet weather. A pool lies a few metres from the entrance which becomes Sump 1 in wet weather. In dry weather, the pool (Sump 1) can be passed, leading to sump 2 about 27 metres from the entrance. Sump 2 can be passed in dry periods and leads after a further 50m or so, to Sump 3. This only dries out after periods of prolonged or extreme drought, beyond which progress may be halted after a further 30 metres. Here it may be necessary to dig out a few metres of gravel in a tight squeeze to enter the remaining 250 metres. The end of the cave, just beyond Bar Cavern, is thought to be close to the termination of Dell Cave.


Driving north out of Henllan village on the B5428, take the first 'C' road off on the left (signposted Bont Newydd). After about 40 metres park at a disused gate on your right. Walk a few metres further along the lane to the first gate on the left, where you enter a field. Walk west across the field to another gate and into a second field. Keeping the woods on your right, pass through the gate in the right-hand corner of the field, then Dell Cave can be seen below in the valley immediately to your right.


Warning: Sump 2 can fill with no stream flowing through the cave. The cave also becomes active very quickly after rain. Exploration beyond Sump 2 should only be attempted in settled weather conditions.




History of exploration


The passage between Sumps 2 & 3 appears to have first been entered in the 1930s or 1950s: "On a beautiful white stal they were surprised to find some indecipherable initials and a date which seemed to be either 193- or 195- smoked on the stal with an acetylene lamp......... a small resurgence in the right bank about 50 yards below Afon Meirchion Cave......... emerged from a gap six inches by three inches in the rock at the level of the river " .

Source: Davies & Ellis (1960). Caving in North Wales. Occasional Paper No.2. Shepton Mallet Caving Club.



The cave beyond Sump 2 was first passed in 1964 by Shepton Mallet Caving Club who explored a further 75 feet of constricted passage before it became 'too narrow'. In 1965 fluorescein dye was introduced into the water sinking at Dell Cave, and activated charcoal detectors were placed at the entrance to Afon Meichion Cave and also at the small resurgence 50 yards downsteam. Both proved positive.

Source: Ellis, B.M. (1966) Journal No 1 Shepton Mallet Caving Club .



After a period of prolonged drought, Sump 3 was passed in September 1976 leading to a significant extension by Grahame Shone with dog Patch of Henllan and Alan Jones (see photo). They excavated a blockage 30 metres beyond Sump 3 and explored a total of approximately 1000 feet of passage.


The writer and a few others managed to explore the new extension a week after Grahame's discovery, but days after this, the sumps once again became flooded.


The only description of the last 300ft of the cave is taken from an unpublished account by Alan Jones in 1976: We started up the steeply rising passage that went on for about 100ft where we climbed over a few large boulders and turned left and entered the Small Chamber (see survey). As we left this chamber, now being able to walk we soon entered the larger chamber (Bar Cavern), which was about 25ft high and 20ft wide, being 30-40ft long. The scene in this chamber was magnificent ,as were the many stalagmites and stalactites, some joining up to form small columns. There were many stalactites of about 12-18” in length and also many fine straw stalactites. The walls were covered in flowstone and stalagmite curtains. At the far end of the chamber there was a pile of rocks leading up into a large bedding plane passage about 20ft wide and 2ft high. About 20ft into this passage we climbed up into an older dry passage. We followed this higher passage for about 100ft where we dropped down into the wet passage again. We carried on until we came into a small room-sized chamber with a small pool of water at the end (Terminal Sump on survey ). No way on could be seen through this water. As we turned to leave the cave, we noticed a very low passage leading off, dipping below the passage we had entered by. As the pool of water is so small, we believe the main tunnel must lie along the lower bedding plane passage ”. At this point, concern over the weather on surface dictated that they abandon exploration. The following week the sumps were again flooded. The writer is not aware if access beyond the sumps was possible during the exceptionally dry summer of 2018.


The letter below describing the breakthrough, was sent by Grahame Shone to D.B.Corbyn (possibly of Shropshire Mining & Caving Club) .......

September 6th 1976

Dear Sir,

Regarding the Afon Meirchion Cave near Henllan, I am writing this letter to you, to let you know that I have extended its length to about 950-1000ft.

On the 5th September 1976, I visited the sump at the 225ft mark and dug a way down to the right to continue along a crawl coming to a narrow passage which is high enough to crawl on your side. I do think that anyone with a chest measurement over 100cms might not be able to continue.

The passage gets a lot easier and most enjoyable eventually arriving at a large chamber or cavern, (if nobody minds I have christened it BAR CAVERN as I was the first to enter), it has a most exciting arrangement of Stalactite, Stalagmite, Curtain, Boss and Flowstone with a Boulder Choke. It carries on finally at a terminal sump which cannot be far from the extreme of Dell Cave.

Beyond Bar Cavern there is a higher and lower passage keyhole shaped and a wide bedding plane of about 25ft, which you don’t need to go through.

I very much hope that you will explore and survey this cave as it was very demanding, also no tackle whatsoever is needed.

If you wish to go, do go as soon as possible, as the sump at the 225ft mark can fill with water without the stream flowing.

The distances which I have marked in red biro have been measured, the distances in blue biro have been guessed at. My sketch is very rough indeed, the cave has a much more alternating direction than in the sketch.

Hoping very much to hear from you soon.

Yours Faithfully,

Grahame Shone.


Discoverers Grahame Shone and Alan Jones with dog Patch in 1976 (Newspaper source not known?)


The following three images are the only photos known to exist of Bar Cavern beyond the sumps.....................

Grahame Shone (1976) Photo: Alan Jones


Alan Jones (1976)
Photo: Grahame Shone


Speleothem roof of Bar Cavern (1976)
Photo: Grahame Shone


Entrance (1975)


Entrance passage (2000s) Photo: Ian Adams


Entrance passage (2000s) Photo: Ian Adams


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Afon Meirchion Cave, Upper SJ0211569213 +/-20ft River Elwy

(Also once known as Fox Cave)


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The un-named cave on the plan is now known as Coed-y-Trap Cave (see below)



Afon Meirchion Cave, Upper
A walk-in entrance chamber 3m in diameter has a 5m high aven in the roof.
On the left side of the chamber at floor level, is a crawl which leads to surface at a second entrance .
On the right of the chamber at floor level is a crawl passage which reportedly terminates after 10 metres, although this was not explored by the writer on the 2016 visit.

A trench in the floor of the chamber was excavated in 2012 by Rob Dinnis of the British Museum. This found evidence that the cave had previously been the subject of archaeological excavation, possibly in Victorian times, and the remnants of a speleothem floor were found adhering to the walls. No early documentary reference to this work is known. It is therefore presumed that the work was unproductive. (Source: Dinnis, R. & Ebbs, C. "Cave deposits of North Wales: some comments on their archaeological importance and an inventory of sites of potential interest" 2013).
A further test excavation was carried out by Rob Dinnis in 2016 following a cavers reported find of bones thought to be from this cave. Although the bones included that of bear, no additional evidence was found at the cave (see CPAT report 1469, 2017).

Driving north out of Henllan village on the B5428, take the first 'C' road off on the left (signposted Bont Newydd). After about 40 metres park at a disused gate on your right. Walk a few metres further along the lane to the first gate on the left, where you enter a field. Walk west across the field to another gate and into a second field. Keeping the woods on your right, pass through the gate in the right-hand corner of the field, then immediately, pass through a footpath gate on your left into the woods. Following the dell downstream (west), walk for 125 paces, following a vague footpath which crosses the dry stream-bed obliquely, and follows the line of an old stone wall on your right. After crossing the dry stream-bed, continue for another 50 paces or so, then just before the steepest slope down onto the Afon Meirchion stream below, turn to your right and cross over the stone wall walking north, skirting below, but keeping close to, the limestone cliffs. Upper Meirchion Cave lies about 70 paces north of the stone wall.



Coed-y-Trap Cave
Lying 20 metres south (to the right) of Upper Meirchion Cave as shown on plan above. It is merely a 4m crawl which re-emerges at a second entrance just around the corner.
The cave was first named by cave archaeologist Rob Dinnis of the British Museum, who carried out non-productive test excavations near the entrance in 2012 and 2017 (see CPAT report 1469, 2017).

This is best reached from the entrance of Upper Meirchion Cave, by scrambling up just to the right of the main entrance, along the cliffs. The cave lies about 20m away to the south.


Upper Meirchion Cave main (south) entrance


Upper Meirchion Cave chamber, showing the east crawl passage


Upper Meirchion Cave east crawl passage


Coed-y-trap Cave south entrance


Coed-y-trap Cave north entrance


Coed-y-trap Cave cr awl passage viewed from north entrance


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Big Covert Cave Length: 80m (cave only) SJ1979560558 (+/- 10 feet) Maeshafn Archaeological (Human)
Also known as Maeshafn Cave
Earliest finds: Bronze age

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Source: Flintshire Historical Society, Volume 15, 1955


A stooping-sized entrance opens into a horizontal passage about 3m wide x 4m long x almost 2m high. At the rear, the passage passage turns to the right and descends steeply for 30m to a small chamber with a junction. Straight ahead, the cave continues as a crawl over rocks, descending to a clay-floored space giving just enough room to turn around, in what is known as the 'bone chamber'. To the right at the junction is a 30m mined passage which was not driven any further than can be seen beyond a pool of water. This passage was mined in the 1700s or 1800s when the resulting waste rock was thrown down the last section of the natural cave, sealing it off. The blockage was cleared just enough to permit crawling through in 1949 by archaeologists. Where the cave terminates at the 'bone chamber', a clay-filled blockage and shallow pool prevent further progress.


The bone chamber was first excavated in 1948. Working space is limited at this point and the floor is subject to seasonal flooding, but further clay deposits remain untouched. Working conditions however might be difficult without first draining the shallow pool of water, although it appears from the earliest reports, that it may dry out in warm periods.

The first archaeological discovery in the cave was made by J. L. Williams some time before 1948. He had the bones identified by Dr. Gamble of Holywell (source: personal communication with one of the original excavators, Mr Birchall, Corwen Road, Trueddyn in 1985). Exploration was then "taken in hand in 1948 by Mr G. E. Hesketh, master at Ruthin School, and Mr R. A. Wyke, who, to begin with, concentrated on clearing the 'old rubble seal' where the cave was blocked some 60 yards from the entrance. In October 1949 the explorers penetrated about 20 yards further, to a 'chamber''" (bone chamber).

Source: "Cave Exploration at Maes Hafn, Llanferres" by Ellis Davies. Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions, Vol 2, 1953.


Several other excavations then took place during the 1950s, both in the entrance passage and the bone chamber at the end of the cave. Amongst the finds were bronze brooches and a ring, a flint arrowhead and numerous hominin remains (5 adults, 1 child.


The cave contains 'multitudinous' graffitti from the seventeenth century to the present day. Examples of the earliest documented dates include:

A.T. 1698 (below 50 yard chamber).

Thos Allin May 12th. 1753 (Beautifully carved on the north wall, about 115 feet from datum).

Most graffitti appears to be 20th century or more recent, and this has helped obscure some of the more interesting inscriptions.

Source: "An Account of Excavations in the Cave in the Big Covert , Maeshafn, Llanferres" by G.E. Hesketh. Flintshire Historical Society, Vol 15, 1954-55.



Incorrect claims by professionals state that "Cavers have been active in the cave digging in various places. There is little left of the deposits still undisturbed" (Valdemar & Jones 1970). A modern survey of the cave however, shows it to be identical to the 1949 survey shown above and has not been subject to digging by cavers at all.

It has also been wrongly claimed by professionals that the boulder blockage immediately beyond the mine passage was the result of cavers work. The original 1953 account by Ellis Davies however (see Source above) states: "About 50 yards from the entrance Mr Hesketh came across what he regarded as an artificial excavation resembling a mine level. Mr Hesketh thinks the rubble blocking the cave (ahead) might have come from this level". A subsequent account by Hesketh adds: "This level has been timbered in places". Little trace of timbering now remains.


The cave has been recommended for scheduling as an Ancient Monument by CPAT (Report 980, 2009).


From Maeshafn village, take the road west down the hill. Park about 100 metres down the hill where a track forks off to the left. Take the track on the left into the ’Big Covert' on foot. After a few hundred metres, take the footpath through the gate on left. Follow the track to the top of a rise after about 150m. Almost 50m beyond the rise is an indistinct footpath off to the right. The entrance can almost be seen from the track.


Sources:

Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions, Vol 2, 1953.

"An Account of Excavations in the Cave in the Big Covert , Maeshafn, Llanferres" by G.E. Hesketh. Flintshire Historical Society, Vol 15, 1954-55 pages 141 - 148. This eight page description is available as a A PDF and can be e-mailed on request: cavecomment@hotmail.co.uk

A shorter account of early observations can be seen here:
http://welshjournals.llgc.org.uk/browse/viewpage/llgc-id:1256711/llgc-id:1258402/llgc-id:1258561/getText


Archaeological:

SMR: 102318, 102319

Excavation: C.E. Hesketh, N. Pritchard, 1948-50; J.G. Morris, 1954

Curation: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (33.22/2, 57.159/1-3, 83.55H, 89.30H)

Burials: 6 (5 adults, 1 child)

Finds: Barbed and tanged arrowhead, flint artefacts, RB finds, animal bones (in NMW)

Date: Unknown (5)

Source and further references: http://caveburial.ubss.org.uk/wales/wales.htm


The following photos are in order of depth below surface........

County archaeologist Fiona Gale (now retired) at Big Covert Cave


View from the entrance chamber looking down the steeply sloping main passage


Graffitti become more obvious half way down


Looking up from the lower part of the cave


Also in the lower part of the cave


Just before the cave reduces to a crawl the walls abound with graffitti


The natural cave continues ahead on left of photo. On the right is a short mined passage


Looking down the natural passage towards the end 'chamber'.
Note the miners 'deads' partially blocking the passage.



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Brasgyll Caves 1-8 SJ005713 River Elwy


Diagram showing the approximate locations of the eight caves


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1987 survey by Moldywarps Speleological Group

The journal containing the survey is available online: http://nymcc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/MSG11.compressed.pdf


Brasgyll Gorge


A small gorge with several interesting caves on a tributary of the River Elwy. The gorge contains numerous fissures and sinks, many of which could repay further work. The resurgence for these caves and sinks lies to the north near the bank of the River Elwy (see Brasgyll Risings on page 03. Springs, Sinks & Shakeholes). The proximity of the resurgences suggest that any cave system may be of limited extent.


Access: The gorge forms part of Cefn Estate belonging to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn and is therefore on private property. Prior permission should be sought from the estate office at Cefn. Normally just a phone call in advance is required, then call in at the office on the day to sign a disclaimer.

A public footpath (opposite the entrance to a house) leaves the road at SJ005712 (about 200m south-west of the small bridge over the gorge). This path leads down to the upstream end of the gorge. From where the path crosses the stream, walk upstream 30 paces to search (if you feel the need) for Cave 3 on the west bank. The first of the other caves can be seen by walking downstream 60 paces from where the path crosses the stream (i.e. 90 paces north of Cave 3).


Archaeological notes
Brasgyll Gorge contains eight caves. At least three have been archaeologically excavated (Caves 2, 6 and 8 ), but only two are documented as having produced remains (Caves 2 and 8).
Although previously excavated, all three
caves appear to contain further undisturbed deposits.
Some confusion exists over which archaeological caves are referred to in documentary sources.


Because of the difficulty obtaining accurate GPS locations at some of the caves, only Caves 3, 6 and 8 are shown as having 10 figure locations.


Cave 1 (Jock's Pot) Length: 122m Depth: 14m
The longest of the Brasgyll Caves, first documented in 1965 by Shropshire Mining Club, having three entrances along the east bank of the gorge. See survey above for location of entrances.
Entrance 1a (Upstream entrance): A 2m crawl then a 2m drop leads to a 3m diameter chamber. Water from the surface usually enters on the left here. A tight squeeze to the east connects with the 'middle' passages.
Entrance 1b (Middle entrance): A small 2m pot leads after a few metres to a junction. To the right can be followed for 20m to a tight squeeze in the floor which enters Entrance 1a. Back at the junction, after another 2m, a passage on the right ends at a 4m climb down to a blockage in the floor. Returning to the main passage again, after a further 2m the passage passes beneath a climb in the roof which leads to the 'downstream' passages. In the floor at this point is a crawl which has been dug for a few metres.
Entrance 1c (Downstream entrance): A 2m crawl then a 4m climb down. Turn north and follow the sound of running water. Taking the easiest route leads to the head of a 4m pitch. This is awkward and requires ladder and lifeline. The chamber below has two passages which get too low after a few metres (see survey).





Jock's Pot approaching the pitch Photo: Ian Adams


Jock's Pot: The pitch Photo: Ian Adams



Cave 2 Length: 29m Archaeological (Human)

Stated by CPAT as being Nant-y-Graig Cave B (CPAT 2009)
See 1987 survey above
The cave lies 6 metres above stream level with a 2m square entrance. A passage of 15m leads to a small chamber from where a crawl to the right has been dug for a few metres.
It contains a significant quantity of undisturbed deposits.

First excavated by J. Hywel Owen in 1946 who found human remains of at least six individuals and animals in unstratified deposits.
Source: J. Wilfrid Jackson (Manchester Museum) in 'British Caving' (1953) ed. Cullingford, page 209.
The cave has been recommended for scheduling as an Ancient Monument (CPAT Report 980: 'Caves: The Scheduling Enhancement Programme' 2009)

Entrance lies in an obvious fold in the eastern cliff-face 6m metres above stream level.
Warning: Beware of unstable boulders above the entrance


Archaeological:

NGR: SJ00557128

SMR: 19309, 102147, 101424

Excavation: C.S. Mainwaring & Mrs Williams Wynn, 1871; J.H. Owen, 1946-48

Curation: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (68.88/8-9)

Burials: 6+

Finds: Flint arrowhead, flakes, core; RB artefacts; animal bones

Date: ?Neolithic (2)

Source: http://caveburial.ubss.org.uk/wales/wales.htm


Cave 2 entrance

Cave 2 showing en situ deposits


Cave 3 (B.S. Pot) SJ0049971259 +/-14ft Length 110m

A narrow slot at the foot of the limestone outcrop is 2m deep having a blocked passage at floor level.
When visited by the writer in 2014, the hole below the entrance appeared to need some work in moving boulders to gain entry.

A 1960s account (Shepton Mallet Caving Club?) mentions that archaeological excavation work was carried out, but details have not been found by the writer.


Currently blocked top of Cave 3 (Loose boulders need lifting out)



Cave 4 (Cathedral Cave) Length: 24m

See 1987 survey above

Entrance is a stooping-sized tube passage. Just 3m in is a 9m pitch on the left. At the bottom of the pitch is a narrow crawl which can be pushed for about 8m to a well-decorated (in 1974) chamber about 2m x 3m. Beyond the chamber the passage becomes blocked at a point almost beneath the surface stream.

Cave 4 (Cathedral Cave)


Cave 4 entrance passage looking towards the pitch


The pitch in Cave 4 Photo: Ian Adams



Cave 5

A stooping-sized passage becomes silted after 2m at a point close to Cave 4. A coup!e of metres to the right of the entrance is a crawl which is blocked by clay.
May possibly have been the subject of archaeological work. The cave contains limited undisturbed (?) deposits.

Seven metres downstream (north) of Cave 4.






Cave 6 SJ0057271314 +/-20ft Length: 12m

(Stated by CPAT as being Nant-y-Graig Cave A [Archwilio])
A rock-shelter-like cave which runs for a few metres to the left and has a narrow passage off to the right. There is also a hole in the cliff 5m above, but this immediately becomes too tight and is not worth the climb.

Floor deposits have been archaeologically excavated as indicated by the in-situ deposits forming a step up into the right-hand passage. Further deposits of unknown depth remain.

From Cave 5, continue following the ascending bank for a further 25 paces or so.
The entrance lies about 10m above stream level.

Warning: A large limestone block forming the roof of the rock-shelter is unstable.




Rock-shelter entrance of Cave 6. Note large unstable slab forming the central roof (2013)


Cave 6: View looking north from within the cave


Cave 7 Length: 4m

A tube which re-emerges just round the corner at a second entrance.

Can be found where the gorge narrows and the c!iffs meet the stream.



The two entrances of Cave 7


View looking into the right-hand entrance of Cave 7


Cave 8 SJ0060571416 +/-42ft Length: 7m Archaeological (Human)


An obvious entrance about 1.5m in diameter, leads after a few metres to a chamber about 2 or 3 metres in diameter. It has a second smaller entrance just 3 metres to the right.

Remnants of an old speleothem floor can be seen just below roof level.

The cave contains undisturbed deposits of unknown archaeological potential.

The cave has been recommended for scheduling as an Ancient Monument (CPAT Report 980: 'Caves: The Scheduling Enhancement Programme' 2009)

The northernmost cave in the gorge, just 20 paces upstream from the stone bridge shown on the area plan above

Archaeological

SMR: 19309, 102147, 101424

Excavation: C.S. Mainwaring & Mrs Williams Wynn, 1871; J.H. Owen, 1946-48

Curation: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (68.88/8-9)

Burials: 6+

Finds: Flint arrowhead, flakes, core; RB artefacts; animal bones

Date: ?Neolithic (2)

14C: -

Source: http://caveburial.ubss.org.uk/wales/wales.htm



The two entrances of Cave 8


Main entrance, Cave 8

Cave 8 showing undisturbed floor deposits


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Brown Quarry Caves 1 - 3 SJ171758 Pantasaph

Information updated August 2016


CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE Extract from 25":1 mile Ordnance Survey sheet



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Location of the three caves and mined access tunnel



The quarry viewed looking south-west


Three caves in a small abandoned quarry overlooking the Dee Estuary. Although only short, the en situ deposits they contain could hold archaeological potential.

There is no record of archaeological excavation having taken place at this quarry.



From a bend on the Brynford road a quarter of a mile east of Pantasaph Priory, take the signed public footpath north for 200m. Just before White Quarry, turn right and walk eastwards (White Quarry is gated at its east end, so don't walk through White Quarry to reach Brown Quarry ...... a house overlooks the gate). Just after passing White Quarry you will see a house off to your left. Continue walking east along the northern boundary of a large field to a stile at the far side. After this stile, turn left and over another stile walking north, keeping to the east side of the field. The track continues north beyond this field directly to Brown Quarry.




Cave 1: SJ1713675787 +/-12ft Length: 8m

A 2m wide by 2m high entrance lowers to an excavated crawl after 3m. Near the end it turns left then becomes too tight. The cave contains abundant undisturbed deposits.

A blocked passage lies 2m to the left and 2m above Cave 1 containing further deposits.

Yet another blocked passage about a metre wide lies 2m to the right if Cave 1.

The left-hand entrance of the three.


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Location of Caves 1 & 2


Cave 1 showing unexcavated deposits



View out from Cave 1



Cave 2: SJ1713075789 +/-12ft Length: 4m

A tight entrance squeeze opens a little after a metre but appears blocked 4m from the entrance. A crawl at floor level on the right is partially blocked.

A few metres to the right of Cave 1.



The tight squeeze of Cave 2

View south in Cave 2
The crawl to the right cannot be seen from this angle




Cave 3: SJ1710975784 +/-13ft Length: 5m

A large mined passage 3m wide by 2m high runs for about 10m before opening to surface. This presumably served as a rail transport route from the quarry. Just inside the entrance is a natural cave passage on the left. This measures 1.5m wide by 1m high which soon reduces to a crawl over abundant undisturbed deposits.

15m to the right of Cave 2


Mined tunnel just to the right of Cave 3 (see half metre ranging pole)


Cave 3 showing the amount of undisturbed deposits almost filling the passage



Mined access tunnel (viewed looking south)


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Bryn Alyn Caves 1 - 12 Llanferres


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APPROXIMATE locations of Bryn Alyn caves



Cave 1 (Lynx Cave) Length 15m approx SJ197593 Archaeological (Human)


Earliest find: Bone spear-point 11,700BP


John Blore's dedicated website (2011): http://lynxcave.webs.com/


A small archaeological single-passage cave excavated by J.D. Blore of Wallasey (self-taught amateur cave archaeologist) since 1962. John celebrated his 50th year of excavation at Lynx Cave in 2012. His work at the cave has provided evidence that it was used by humans and animals for 12,000 years. It was used as an occasional shelter by hunting parties, who butchered and cooked sufficient for their needs in the cave, before returning home with the bulk of their spoils. In the late Bronze Age (around 3,000 years ago) several bodies were buried in the cave, after which the entrance was sealed with a large capstone. A total of eight individuals including an infant, are represented among the bones. Other finds include 26 sharp cutting tools, three hammer-stones, a bone spear-point 11,700 years old, a shale bracelet and a bronze brooch inlaid with silver and enamel of Romano-British origin.
Source: 'Lynx Cave, Denbighshire: 50 years of Excavation 1962 - 2012' (June 2012). Currently available on CD or as a PDF.

In June 2015, John Blore handed his entire Lynx Cave collection to the National Museum of Wales (accession number: 2015.11H).


Professional help
John's report is effectively the final account of his work and is a testament to his life-long tenacity. The reports 76 pages demonstrate what can be achieved without any support, guidance or funding from CPAT or CADW. On the other hand, he has received considerable assistance over the many years from numerous museum and university specialists, Johns acknowledgement of which, this website makes no excuse for reproducing in full:

"Dr. Juliet Jewel, Dr Oakley, Dr C Stringer and Dr. Anthony Sutcliffe, (British Museum). Tom Lord, (Lower Winskill, Settle). Dr C B McBurney, (Cambridge University). F H Thomson, (Grosvenor Museum Chester). Dr. P O’Donoghue (Chester University), Dr. P. Thomas, (Keele University). Dr. J Lageard and James Hegarty, (Manchester Metropolitan University). Clem Fisher and Philip Phillips, (Merseyside County Museum). J M Lewis, Ministry of Public Buildings & Works. Jo Bailey, (Natural History Museum, Tring). The Oxford Accelerator Unit. Pengelly Cave Research Centre. John Wymer, (Reading Museum). Mrs J Chance, University of Liverpool, (Small Animal Practice). Prof. K Branigan Dr M Dearne, and Dr. P Pettitt (University of Sheffield). & The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project (AHOB) for funding, in part, some of the Radiocarbon tests.

Special thanks go to Dr. Roger Jacobi, from the British Museum, who was without doubt the leading authority on the stone and bone tools from the Upper Palaeolithic. He started work on the flint implements in 1980 whilst at Lancaster University and continued right through until his untimely death in 2009. His contribution to the dig has been immeasurable, obtaining identification of some of the more difficult fragments of bone, acquiring radiocarbon dating on some of the more important finds; (most of what is not accessible to the amateur), and leaving no stone unturned in his quest for answers to some of the issues raised by the excavation, but most of all for sharing his unrivalled knowledge of the subject, on a personal basis".


Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust quote of the year 2009:

In 2009 Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) published their Report No 980: "Caves: The Scheduling Enhancement Programme" intended to inform future scheduling decisions relating to archaeological caves of Wales. It is however, poorly researched and rather inaccurate. A typical example can be found in the opening pages.......

"One of the cave sites that had originally been Scheduled (as an Ancient Monument), Lynx Cave, had its protection removed in the 1980s. The exact grounds for this removal are not known, but this seems to have been a rather unfortunate occurrence, given that the site has subsequently been heavily affected by excavation, albeit that this appears to have been done in an archaeological manner, with a depth of at least one metre of deposits having been removed from the entrance. The identity of those carrying out the excavations is at present unknown, but it is to be hoped that they will produce a full report on the work at some point, as the cave is known to have contained burials and material believed to date to the Palaeolithic and Roman periods".

It is inconceivable that the authors of the report were unaware of the history of this site, particularly as John Blore supplied CPAT with each of his progress reports over the years (see Primary Sources below). It clearly demonstrates the degree to which professionals disregard work by the amateur sector in North Wales. Papers such as 'Report 980' are then widely circulated among other professionals and are wrongly assumed to be authoritative. Consequently they in turn continue to be cited in bibliographies, further degrading the documentary resource for generations to come.


Original consent granted in 1962: It should also be noted that documented claims by professionals that excavation of Lynx Cave took place without consent, are untrue. "W e were given permission to erect a steel door over the entrance to the cave in May 1962. This was granted through Cooke & Arkwright, the then agents for W R Lloyd, providing that the tenant farmer (Tudor Jones) had no objection, which he did not". Blore was then granted consent by archaeologists: "The Ministry of Public Buildings & Works, Ancient Monuments department were informed of me excavating Lynx Cave and notified of some of the exciting early finds that we had made. The inspector of Monuments Mr. J M Lewis visited the cave and viewed the collection of bones and artefacts and more importantly my records of the excavation. Satisfied that they were being recorded properly and that I had the backing of Dr. D Bramwell (Peakland Archaeological Society) as my mentor, he gave me permission to excavate with the proviso that reports were written and the Ancient Monuments Department were informed" (Pers. comm. with John Blore 2017).



Lynx Cave has never been Scheduled

Despite CPATs claim in their Report 980 that the cave had been Scheduled, this was not the case: John Blore informed professionals of the importance of his finds from the cave, after which an attempt was made to schedule the cave in 1964. This would have prevented Blore carrying out any further work. Due to professional ineptitude however, an adjoining, but incorrect area was scheduled by mistake: "......it turns out that the cave itself is not included and that a stretch of uninteresting cliff is receiving state protection" (Source: A Survey of English & Welsh Palaeolithic Cave Sites, by Barton and Collcutt, 1986). Hence this wrongly protected area subsequently had its scheduling removed, and the cave remains unscheduled to this day. The survey by Barton and Collcutt goes on to say: "In 1986 when the site was visited by the present authors, the cave had been all but emptied of its deposits"; a detail that was clearly misguided, as Blore continued excavating at the cave for a further three decades!



Although he received a great deal of help from many professionals outside North Wales, i t is clear from documentary sources that John Blore has, for over 40 years, been shamefully treated and marginalised by local professional organisations. Attempts by this writer to identify the rationale behind this have been met with silence. His treatment will long remain a sad reflection of a (locally) arrogant profession with little interest in most archaeological caves.



Archaeological:

HER: PRN 100947 to 100950

SAM: De 176

Curation: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (accession number: 83.98H); Grosvenor Museum, Chester

Burials: 6+ (now known to be 8 including 1 infant: See 2012 reference below)

Finds: Upper Palaeolithic flint artefacts; bone point; RB artefacts; animal bones

14C: 2945 bp (OxA-8070) on cut-marked bird bone

Source: http://caveburial.ubss.org.uk/wales/wales.htm



Examples from the collections held by the National Museum of Wales:

Red deer tibia (2015.11H/106.3) 11680 +/-45 BP

Reindeer humerus (2015.11H/126) 11145 +/-80 BP



Primary sources:
Blore, J.D., Lynx Cave Preliminary report 1962-1964, Newsletter No. 21, Peakland Archaeological Society

Blore, J.D., Lynx Cave Excavations Clwyd 1962-1981, Second report, n.d..
Blore, J.D., The Enigmatic Lynx, (2002). ISBN 0 9541835 0 9.
Blore, J. D. Lynx Cave, Denbighshire - 50 Years of Excavation 1962-2012 (June 2012). Currently only available on CD.

Bryn Alyn Cave No 1 (Lynx Cave)


Bryn Alyn Cave No 1 (Lynx Cave) Photo: J. D. Blore


Trumpet brooch from Lynx Cave Photo: J.D. Blore


Remains of lynx Photo: J. D. Blore


Human Remains from Lynx Cave Photo: J. D. Blore


Stone tools (liths) from Lynx Cave Photo: J. D. Blore

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Cave 2 Length 12m SJ19865940

A low crawl with a healthy draught, but possibly connecting with a hole 30m to the south-west.

From Cave 1, walk east, skirting any outcrops for about 100m until absence of trees gives a clear view of the quarry ahead. The cave lies about 70 paces further on, just at top of scree slope at foot of small outcrop.

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Cave 3 Length 20m SJ19755927

Also known as Top Ridge Cave or Windy Cave
Examined in 1959 by John Blore who named it Top Ridge Cave. It was first documented as Windy Cave (Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal, Series Four, No 1, June 1966).
Excavated by John Blore in 1986. No evidence was found to suggest human use or occupation. Remains include: Wild cat, fox, badger, dog, pig, hare & hedgehog (source: pers. comm. with John Blore 2012).
A stooping-sized passage can be followed down then up to where it becomes a squeeze up into a tiny chamber. Daylight can be seen ahead through a narrow rift. At surface, this rift is left of, and 6m above, the entrance.
Returning to the footpath that led steeply up from the road, continue up Bryn Alyn for another 200-300m to where an old wall crosses the path obliquely. At this point turn sharp left and walk north for 240 paces. Cave is then easily visible in outcrop on right.


Bryn Alyn Cave No 3 (Top Ridge Cave) Photo: John Blore

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Cave 4 Length 10m SJ19805930

A low crawl into a small chamber in the 1970s. It has since been occupied by badgers who have blocked the entrance, although badgers were not using the cave in 2012.

From the 'daylight rift' above Cave 3, follow the same bedding in the limestone left (which slowly rises) for 55 paces.



Bryn Alyn Cave No 4 Photo: John Blore


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Cave 5 (Hawthorn Cave) Length 10m SJ19805931

A small exploratory trench was begun at the cave entrance in 2009. The site "certainly has potential as an archaeological site" (source: pers. comm. with John Blore 2012).
Named as Hawthorn Cave by John Blore.
A low crawl into a small chamber.

About ten paces east of Cave 4.



Bryn Alyn Cave No 5 (Hawthorn Cave) Photo: John Blore


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Cave 6 Length 9m SJ19975896

Entrance is a narrow, vertical rift. Climb down 3m into a 7m long, but narrow rift chamber. A hole at floor level at the eastern end of the rift leads into a further tiny chamber. Rope useful for entrance rift.

Returning again to the footpath leading up from the road, continue uphill to Pwll Iwrach (Pool of the roebuck). Follow the track beyond the far side of the 'hidden valley’ but 10m before the highest point turn off to the left. Follow top edge of crags northward for 60 paces.



Bryn Alyn Cave No 6



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Caves 7 - 10 Updated January 2020


Directions: These four small caves lie close together but are now difficult to reach due to the steep hillside and 'venomous' hawthorn. The least arduous route begins at the stile at SJ205593. From here take the footpath diagonally up Bryn Alyn for about 200m until you reach a large open mine adit on the left (used for private water supply). From here climb directly up for about 25m bearing off slightly to the left as you gain height. Then follow any horizontal route off to the left (east). After about 50 metres you may see an area above clear of vegetation. Do NOT be tempted to take this easier route, but continue east for a further 40 metres or so though difficult hawthorn. You should then reach a cliff-face with Cave 7 at its base. Caves 8, 9 & 10 can be found within 20 metres further east being in, or close to, a small gully. If looking up and expecting an easier route back down to the track, don't attempt to climb up where it appears to be free of undergrowth, as the hawthorns are far worse. A pair of branch loppers should help in reaching the caves.


The caves are described below

Two photos of the gulley to look for.......


View from Caves 9 & 10 looking down gulley


Looking up gulley to Caves 9 & 10.

Cave 7 lies a few metres off to the right of photo at bottom of gulley

Note the flow marks in right-hand wall


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Cave 7 SJ2015659366

A three metre steep slope down into a chamber no more than 2m x 2m x 2m. When last visited by the writer in the 1970s, a blocked passage could be seen at floor level. No trace of this however was visible in 2020.




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Cave 8 SJ20235935

A 9m deep pot modified by mining containing a 9m mined passage. Entrance covered by large boulder. Tackle required. (1970s description)

(Not seen during 2020 visit). A mine level lies about 4 metres lower down the hillside. This appears to have run in about 4m from the entrance.

Just in front of the bottom of the small gully

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Cave 9 Length 2m SJ2015659366

An insignificant 2m low crawl, although it may repay a little work.

Near top of gully on the right, immediately in front of the entrance to Cave 10.


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Cave 10 Length 9m SJ2016659371

Not pushed in 2020, but in the 1970s it was described as "a 9m crawl with a small aven on the right near the entrance".

Near the top of gully




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Cave 11 Depth 2m SJ2030659369 +/-9ft

An insignificant vertical-walled pothole less than 2 metres in diameter. The pot was 2m in depth when visited in the 1970s, but has since been partially filled with clay and boulders. Only mentioned here in case it has archaeological potential . Almost a metre of fill would need to be excavated to regain the floor as seen in the 1970s.

The most easterly of the caves about 30m above road level


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Cave 12 Length 3m+ SJ1928858898 +/-9ft
A previously undocumented cave found by the writer in March 2013. Although merely a 3m crawl, the end is blocked with loose stones and could be extended a little further. The angle of the passage walls suggest the cave enlarges below the earth and clay floor, hence it could have archaeological potential.



Bryn Alyn Cave No 12



Angle of walls suggest the passage becomes wider below the earth and clay floor



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Bryngwyn Quarry Caves 1 – 3 SJ214614 Maeshafn

Three caves in a small disused quarry popular with rock climbers. Seek permission at the nearby Bryngwyn Farm.

The quarry lies 300 metres north-west of the Owain Glyndwr Inn. From the inn, take the lane towards Maeshafn for a hundred metres or so, and before a farm on the left, take the track off on the right.


Cave 1 SJ2144561438 (+/-12ft)

A roomy chamber 6m x 6m x 4m with blocked tube at floor level.

In south facing end of Quarry.





Cave 2

Small rock shelter. Entrance may now be blocked.

Faces west and is north of Cave 1.


Cave 3 SJ2141561472 (+/-12ft)

Also known as Bryngwyn Bone Cave

The original entrance has been walled-up and obscured with earth which had fallen from above. A small hole at the top of this wall provides access down into a small chamber, no more than 1 metre in height, where archaeological work may have been carried out, although no evidence have been found to support this. The name 'Bryngwyn Bone Cave' was seen by the writer many years ago, although the source cannot now be found.

It is possible that the cave was adapted for use as a blast shelter for quarry workers. A closer examination is therefore required.


An archaeological assessment of Bryngwyn Quarry has been carried out by CPAT for a private company. A request for the report was made in 2012 in order to see which of the caves are mentioned, but this was rejected on copyright grounds, despite the company in question no longer existing.


Opposite the south end of the quarry face, the entrance is found in small east-facing outcrop. Lies about 50m north-west of Cave number 1.