Dead Duck CaveLength: 7m SJ189654 Alyn Gorge

A short passage normally ending at a sump. Although now silted up, entry was through a 40 gallon oil drum sunk into the river bed.
Discovered by Pete Robertson in the early 1980s by excavating one of the many river-bed swallows. Water sinking here however, entered Poachers Cave (just 50m away as the crow flies). During digging work a frantic duckling could be seen in the sump ahead, but was beyond reach or rescue.

From car park at Pont Newydd/Cilcain bridge (SJ188652) walk up the steep road towards Pantymwyn to where the road bears to the right by a yellow council grit container A public footpath here descends steeply towards the river, heading downstream. After about 100m look for a sewerage pipe crossing the river. The cave is 30 metres upstream of this pipe at river level (although no trace of the entrance is now visible).

Dell Cave Length: 28m SJ0226269150 +/-15ft Henllan

Source of original 1963 survey:

'Some Caves of North Wales'. Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Series Four, No1, June 1966

In wet-weather only, a stream enters an impressive 4m diameter entrance which tapers down, almost to the floor after just 23m. At this point, the writer and others extended a crawl by 5 metres in 1975 (NWCC Newsletter No.30). The crawl ends at a shallow mud-floored pool. The water was dye-tested by Shepton Mallet Caving Club in 1965 and proved to connect with Afon Meirchion Cave Lower, and a small rising a few metres further downstream of this. A dig in Dell Cave could provide a connection, but it does not look an easy project.

One of the earliest published references to this cave is: Stride, A.H. & R.D. (1953) Britain Underground, by Dalesman Publishing.

Walk west from a dip in the road at SJ02436922 following a small valley downstream for 200m. The stream-bed leads into the cave.

Three views of the cave in 2016......

Lower half of cave. Water levels rise to the roof in flood conditions


Denbigh Castle Cave Length: 15m approx. SH0536965886 +/-23ft Denbigh

A cave with two entrances in a limestone outcrop directly below Goblin Tower, part of the fortifications of Denbigh Castle.

The lower entrance is a narrow slot which leads via a crawl to a chamber. An upper entrance about 4m above has two interconnecting crawls which taper down.

The cave is festooned with spiders.

Source: Ian Adams, UCET forum.

Park at the uppermost car park for Denbigh Castle. To the left of the entrance to this parking area is a public footpath (see photo below). Take the path which descends and crosses a private drive. The path continues in the same direction until a couple of sharp bends. At the second sharp bend, continue straight ahead, into the undergrowth. The lower entrance lies a few metres ahead.

Take the footpath from gap in wall shown on the extreme left of photo

Veer off the path at this point into the undergrowth

Lower entrance

View inside the lower entrance Photo: Ian Adams

Upper entrance Photo: Ian Adams

Looking up from the chamber to upper entrance Photo: Ian Adams


Dulas Cave Length: 200m SH9136377594 (+/-40ft) Llandulas

(Also known as Ogof Dulas)

Ownership: "Proved impossible to identify" (CPAT Report 1469)

An impressive 4m diameter natural passage runs east straight into the hillside to a chamber then a major blockage. The blockage can be climbed towards the roof, but this point corresponds with a depression on the surface. 90m from the entrance is a 2m deep, stone-walled shaft in the passage floor that leads to mine workings which can then be climbed upwards for 15m.

The entrance area of the cave contains glacial deposits and a thick layer of stalagmite floor. Although miners have excavated a passage through the fill, undisturbed deposits remain for a distance of about 8 metres. Further significant deposits remain in places along the passage walls, some undisturbed, other deposits placed there, presumably moved from the miners trench excavated along the passage floor. Their archaeological potential is unknown.

Early references:
British Caver, Vol 18, 1948 by Peter Wild

British Caver, Vol 32, 1959 by Alan Ashwell

Because the entrance is extremely difficult to find if approaching from the north, it is far easier to approach from the green at Rhyd-y-Foel half a mile to the south.

A footpath from the green next to the road (at SH9128477037) enters the woods. Take this path north, keeping a fence to your left for much of the way. After about 650 paces an open mine level lies a few metres above the path. Dulas Cave lies perhaps a further 60 or 80 metres further north, about 10 metres above the path. A short miners cutting leads into the entrance.

Main cave entrance showing miners passage (partially blocked) below

View just inside entrance of the uper passage

Stalagmite floor beneath with unexcavated deposits below
The miners passage runs beneath this floor

Upper passage. Thick vegetation disguising the cave entrance

Main passage. Excavated miners trench in the floor of the main passage

80 metres from the entrance (which can be seen as a dot in the distance) in 2016

An account of the cave by Mel Davies (South Wales Caving Club newsletter 1973 page 21)


Dyserth Cave SJ0581279300 +/-20ft Chamber diameter: 6m Dyserth

A 5m passage opens into a 6m wide chamber of standing height, containing coarse sandy deposits and having a water-fluted roof. Inside the entrance chamber, mine levels run off to the left and right. The 10m passage to the left leads back to the surface and two more entrances. The 20m passage to the right lowers to a crawl to where daylight can be seen ahead.

The chamber appears to have been partially mineralised, and may possibly have been formed by hydrothermal action, similar in nature to Ogof Gloddaeth at Llandudno. The entrance passage however, exhibits flow marking along the floor, suggesting stream action. One wall of the chamber exhibits bright red clays, indicative of haematite deposits. Presumably the nearby and interconnected mine workings were the result of searches for this mineral.

NB This website previously described TWO caves: Dyserth Caves 1 & 2, as did a number of early publications. This was incorrect as there appears to be just one natural cave/chamber. The other nearby entrances all appear to be mine workings.

Information corrected June 2018.

Enter the property of Dyserth Waterfall. A box at the gate invites a modest fee. Take the footpath which leads to the top of the falls, then take the path east for 100m to where it crosses the stream at a concrete foot bridge. Immediately before crossing the stream, leave the main path and walk upstream. The caves are in the north bank after 50m.

The cave lies just out of sight to the left of the photo

A mined passage a few metres to the left of the cave

Cave entrance

Cave chamber showing one of the two mine levels

Chamber showing what appear to be en-situ clay deposits

Ripple marks along floor of entrance passage

Fluting in roof of chamber


Dyserth Castle Caves 1-4 SJ068797 Dyserth Cave 1 (?) is archaeological (human)

First n amed as Dyserth Castle Caves in: "Some Caves in North Wales" (1966) by B.M. Ellis. Shepton Mallet Caving Club, Journal No.1.
The group includes Nant-y-Fuach Rock Shelter

NB: REVISED NUMBERING SYSTEM All cave descriptions corrected following a visit on December 1st 2019, when the number of caves was increased after a fourth cave was recorded.
(Caves 1 & 2 remain the same, but the old Cave 3 is now Cave 4).
It appears that the 'new' Cave 3 had not been documented before.

Four small caves in a steep-sided limestone cwm: Three lie close together in a north-facing cliff, and one opposite in the south-facing cliff-face. When visited in December 2019, the landowner pointed to a further cave in the cliff directly above caves 1, 2 & 3. This was not visible at the time due to hanging vines, and would require climbing equipment to access.

In a small wooded valley half a mile north-east of Dyserth village. Not to be confused with roomy mine workings 100 metres or so to the east . Access is difficult, and being on a working farm, proir consent is required.

Cave 1: Length: 7m SJ0677579751 +/-20ft Nant-y-Fuach Rock Shelter?

Short hands-and-knees-sized passage becoming too low, where badger detritus blocks the way ahead.

Finds include bronze age pottery, arrowheads and human remains representing a possible seven individuals. Excavated 1950-57.

In 2015 CPAT inspected the cave in the company of the ageing landowner, who was present during the 1950s excavation work. He confirmed that this cave was that in which the human remains were found. The entrance however, does not appear to be a "rock shelter", but is simply a passage. It seems therefore that there still remains some question as to the actual site of "Nant-y-Fuach Rock Shelter". The only cave of the four resembling a rock shelter is the slight overhang adjoining Cave 4.
Walking up into the cwm from the west, Cave 1 is the most obvious and most easterly cave on your right, in the north facing cliff.

Nant-y-Fuach Rock Shelter was first examined between 1950 and 1957 by W.H. Stead and R. Bridgewood. Seven, mostly intact human skulls were found together with many cremated human and animal remains plus chards of decorated pottery, contradicting some earlier reports claiming that only five humans were represented. A large chert arrowhead and other smaller flints were also found.

Many of the finds lay in storage for over 60 years and were not recorded until the 2016 dissertaion mentioned below.

Source: "Can Blodwen of North Wales Change the Common Perception of Neolithic Burial Practices in Britain?" 2016 by Alicia Heulwen Rose Enston, Bangor University.

Other references

The writer has been unable to find any primary sources describing the excavations. Two of the earliest secondary refs are:

Longworth, I. (1958) Notes on excavations in the British Isles, 1958. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 25: 280-281.

Trump, D. (1957) Notes on excavations in the British Isles, 1957. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 24: 219.

Source: Chamberlains website:

Cave 1 on left and John Blore standing at Cave 2

View from Cave 1

The end of Cave 1

Neolithic pottery shards
Image copied from "Can Blodwen of North Wales Change the Common Perception of Neolithic Burial Practices in Britain?" 2016 by Alicia Heulwen Rose Enston

Three of the seven almost intact skulls from Nant-y-Fuach
Image copied from "Can Blodwen of North Wales Change the Common Perception of Neolithic Burial Practices in Britain?" 2016 by Alicia Heulwen Rose Enston


Cave 2: Length: 9m

A small tube becoming too tight.

The entrance was hidden by hanging vines (in December 2019). It requires climbing up a metre to access the entrance.
This lies about 6 metres to the right (west) of Cave 1 and is formed along the same limestone bedding.


Cave 3: Length: 4m ?

A small tube not explored on the December 2019 visit.
At first glance it appears simply as a recess in the rock, but climb up a little, and a small passage can be seen leading off to the left.
This also lies on the same limestone bedding and lies a further 4 metres to the west, and is also hidden behind hanging vines.

Cave 3 The passage is not visible from this angle, but runs off to the left

Cave 3 Passage leading off. Not explored on December 1st 2019


Cave 4: Length: 5m

The entrance is a vertical drop of a metre, to the floor of a hands-and-knees-sized passage running for about 8 metres to a T-junction and another 2 metres of passage to the left.
This lies opposite Caves 1-3 in the south-facing cliffs. From Cave 1, follow the stone wall up the south-facing slope. About 10 metres to the left (west) of the wall the cliff forms a right-angled corner. Ascend here for a few metres to a higher cliff-face. The cave entrance can be seen at the foot of this upper cliff-face.

Cave 4 looking towards the end of passage Photo: John Blore

Eisteddfa Farm 'Cave' Length 15m SJ1479655580 (+/-15ft) Graig Fechan, Ruthin

Although described as a cave by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, the site is an old mine working. The entry has therefore been moved to Page 14: 'Lost & Non-caves'


Eryrys Hill Cave Length 30m SJ1964257696 +/-10ft Eryrys

A tight squeeze between boulders, enters a low but wide crawl. This narrows after 9m then enlarges to almost 1m high. The passage ascends gently, ending at a clay and boulder blockage close to the surface (near what appears on the surface to be a filled mine shaft).

Much of the cave is floored with clay at least 2m in depth, hence if excavated should reveal a passage at least 2m wide x 2m high.

First documented in 1991 by Mike Murphy in Grosvenor Caving Club newsletter.

The cave may repay excavation work to assess its archaeological potential.......

Update: Following information provided by this website, a trial excavation was carried out by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust in 2015-16 in the area immediately outside the entrance. The only item of interest found was a flint flake which 'suggests prehistoric activity'.

Source: "CPAT Report No. 1380: Caves of North East Wales - Archaeological Evaluation 2015-16".

Due to the caves dimensions being restricted to a low crawl over deep deposits, no work was carried out within the cave where the most promise lies. Work would be required to lower the area outside the entrance before excavation could advance into the cave (although if approached, cavers could clear the area within a few hours).

The low entrance is found in a small outcrop about 30m above Nant-y-Palmau house and a short distance to the north-west. Seek permission at the house.

Entrance currently (2012) sealed with loose boulders


Ffos Cave SH93527695 Length: 5m ? Area: Abergele

An uninteresting rock s helter with two entrances and a crawl near floor level.
The cave itself lies in a wall of Ffos-y-Bleddiau, an impressive east-west fault that appears to have been created by Roman or prehistoric mining .

The location of the cave within the Ffos can be seen on the UCET sketch survey:

On the north-east side of Castell Cawr Hill (125m above sea level) is a long lead-mining trench known as Ffos-y-Bleiddiaidd, running across the hill. The cave exists within this trench, above the south wall, overlooking a deep open stope.


Ffynnon Beuno & Cae Gwyn Caves SJ0853272414 +/- 25ft Tremeirchion Archaeological (human)

Both caves are Scheduled Ancient Monuments

Both caves have been fitted with sturdy, steel, locked gates by what is now the NRW

These caves were carefully excavated by Henry Hicks and others in 1885-87, and yielded an extraordinary number of animal remains, comprising those of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, reindeer, Irish deer, red deer, roedeer, horse, cave lion, hyaena, and other forms belonging to a Late Pleistocene fauna”.

Source: A thorough chapter describing the archaeological caves of north Wales by J. Wilfrid Jackson (British Museum) in Cullingford (1953) 'British Caving'.

Hicks and Luxmore found flint scrapers thought to be 35,000 years old. The cave was a hyaena den; the jaws of 200 specimens being found.
Ty Newydd Caves lie nearby and are described separately.
NB Scroll down for Cae Gwyn Cave

Cave 1: Ffynnon Beuno Cave Length 38m Altitude: 380ft AOD approx

Scheduled Ancient Monument Ref: FL 069

Earliest finds: "Artifacts associated with both the last northern European Neanderthals immediately prior to their extinction (40,000 - 42,000BP) and the first Homo sapiens to occupy Europe (37,000 - 36,000BP)"

A 2m diameter entrance passage leads to a rift running off to left and right. At this junction is a 3m wide chamber where a 7m shaft opens to surface above.

A smaller passage on the left (when entering the chamber) leads back to surface.

Finds include mammoth bone C14 dated to 18,000 +/-1,300 years BP and many hyaena bones.

Modern day excavation work

Ffynnon Beuno Cave has been excavated during the summer seasons of 2011, 2012 and 2014 by Rob Dinnis (British Museum) & Chantal Conneller (Manchester University). A further seasons work was carried out in 2019 by Rob Dinnis again with assistance from John Boulton. During this work they carried out laser surveying of the cave, excavated several sites within the cave and outside the entrance, to identify the extent of 1880s waste tips. Undisturbed deposits have been found in one of the internal pits near the junction of the side passage off the chamber (at S3 on the sketch below), contradicting a report for Cadw in 1986 that stated: "Very little in situ material remains in this cave".
The two caves have been confirmed as containing artefacts associated with both the last northern European Neanderthals immediately prior to their extinction (40,000 - 42,000BP) and the first Homo sapiens to occupy Europe (37,000 - 36,000BP): Hence the cave is one of only three such sites known to exist in Britain containing archaeological material from both periods, and the most northerly. The cave is therefore "of International significance". Excavation has identified that the 1880s waste tips contain significant archaeological material in which were found remains of Woolly rhino, Mammoth and Hyaena (65,000 - 10,000BP).
Source of the 2011 & 2012 work:
"Last Neanderthals. First Humans: Excavations at Ffynnon Beuno Cave 2011" (Dec 2012) by Chantal Conneller and Rob Dinnis, in 'Archaeology in Wales', Volume 51, pages 23-26, published by the Council for British Archaeology (Wales).
It is hoped that further work will continue.

For a flyover of Ffynnon Beuno Cave filmed by drone, click on the second image here:

A report by Derbyshire Caving Club of 1961 (Bulletin No.1) refers to another potential cave site in the garden of the landowners house, suggesting it may lead to an active passage. Wording from the 1961 bulletin states: “In the potato garden behind the Ffynnon Beuno Inn there is a cave, probably one of a system running down in a westerly direction with the fall of the rocks towards the Vale of Clwyd. These last are probably flushed by water at every flood, and connect with the drainage system which feeds St. Beunos Well”. Although vague and largely conjecture, it suggests that the possibility of 'new' cave or cave archaeology should at least be looked into. Anyone willing to take this up should get in touch with Raymond Roberts of NRW, who suggests that consent may be granted, but only under their guidance. NRW did however express interest in the 1960s account, which was sent to them in the hope that they might carry out a search themselves, although it appears (in July 2019) they have not.

Two modern reports.....

2011: Last Neanderthals, First Humans: Excavations at Ffynnon Beuno Cave 2011 by Chantel Coneller and Rob Dinnis. This work by a team of specialists marked the first excavations to take place at the cave since the 1880s. The aim was to address many unanswered questions relating to the Victorian work, to examine the surface tips, and carry out trial excavations within the cave. The work forms part of an ongoing project.

2015: The nature of human activity at Cae Gwyn and Ffynnon Beuno caves and the dating of prey and predator presences by Stephen Aldhouse-Green, Rob Dinnis, Kate Scott & Elizabeth A. Walker with contributions by Richard Bevins & Alf G. Latham. An extensive documentary record on Cae Gwyn and Ffynnon Beuno Caves exists, dating largely from the 1880s. Some sources however, offer conflicting information or only provide a view of work at specific, time periods. This report re-assesses the available documentary sources and C14 dating data, and examines the limited collections of bones and artefacts that still remain. Written by leading cave archaeologists, it provides a definitive account of the two caves, setting out their importance. The following information represents just a few key points from the report…..

The finds from Ffynnon Beuno include a blade leaf-point likely to belong to the earliest Upper Palaeolithic known in Britain….. Other finds from the site include an undoubted Aurignacian burin busque ”. A burin busque being a stone from which smaller bladelets or cutting tools, were produced (or knapped). The blade leaf point “….. is thought by most to have been made by the last Neanderthal occupants of northern Europe…. and the Aurignacian (burin busque) is agreed to have been made by early modern humans. Thus Ffynnon Beuno is particularly important as it apparently contains material from the last Neanderthal and first modern human occupation of Britain ”.

Key fauna confirmed to have been found at Cae Gwyn or Ffynnon Beuno include woolly rhinoceros, reindeer, hyaena, mammoth and bear. “ Ffynnon Beuno and Cae Gwyn were in use 42-24,000 BP on the basis of radio carbon results” .

Many bones have been chewed by hyaena. It seems a reasonable inference that the human and hyaena occupations may have been sequential, with humans present before 32,000 BP and hyaenas from 28,000 to 24,000 BP".

A uranium-series date was obtained from a stalagmite from Cae Gwyn. This determined that “ the cave existed 183,000 years ago and that stalagmite was forming there at this time. Ffynnon Beuno, by contrast, had what was interpreted as an area of in situ stalagmitic floor which directly sealed a mammoth tooth and a flint blade leaf-point….. No samples were available for dating ”.

See also The Megalithic Portal:

Three examples of C14 dated bone from the collection held by the National Museum of Wales :

Mammoth femur (acc. No. 2007.46H/12): 27870 +/-340 BP

Woolly rhino (acc. No. 2007.46H/5) 28030 +/-340 BP

Hyena mandible (acc. No. 47.97/72) 18520 +/-130 BP

Source: "The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain" by Dorothy Garrod 1926

Ffynnon Beuno during the 2012 season excavation work

Steel bat-gate bolted to the cave walls by CCW (now NRW)
The walls were not surveyed for cave art prior to drilling (Pers. comm NRW 2015)

Trial pit containing undisturbed deposits

2014 excavation work Photo: Abi Pate

2014 excavation work Photo: Abi Pate

2019 season: Survey station below shaft to surface

2019 season: John Boulton excavating a narrow rift

Cave 2: Cae Gwyn Cave Length: 46m Altitude: 400ft AOD approx.

Also described as Bryn Bella Cave in some sources

Scheduled Ancient Monument Ref: FL 070

Earliest finds include: Mammoth 41,800 BP plus hyena, lion, rhinoceros (According to their database, Grosvenor Museum in Chester holds sixty rhinoceros bones, but no others from Cae Gwyn)

The entrance (A on plan below) is securely gated allowing free movement of bats. Beyond, a passage of walking height meanders to a stone wall marking the end of the passage (at C on plan). A second entrance was found above at this point during excavation work, but this has now been back-filled. Midway between the entrance and this point is a smaller passage leading off (B on plan). This is about 2m high and a body width but pinches out after 16m.

Human remains were found in association with those of mammoth, hyena, lion, rhinoceros etc.
The cave was initially discovered during the course of quarrying by the landowner Mr Edwin Morgan, JP. It was thought that quarry workers revealed a blocked entrance in a rock face and removed some of the fill to create a shelter. Mr Morgan suspected the importance of the newly-unearthed bones, enlisting the help of archaeologists or geologists, with whom he took part in subsequent excavations between 1885 and 1887. As was the custom of the time, labourers were employed to remove deposits, who within the first year had cleared a distance of 135ft from the entrance.
Visiting notables include: E. Bouverie Luxmoore, P.P. Pennant, C.E. DeRance (Geol. Survey) , Dr. Stolterforth, Dr. Geikie, Aubrey Strahan (Geol. Survey) , G.H. Morton, T. McKenny Hughes, Mr Tiddeman (Geol. Survey), Clement Reid (Geol. Survey), and W.B. Dawkins.

Described in 1970 as having been "used as a dumping place for rubbish over the years and is now almost ruined" (Cave Research Group Vol 12, No 2, 1970).

Mammoth remains from the cave have been C14 dated to 41,800 +/-1,800 BP. More recently the cave was used by man; a human radius (acc. No. 86.32H/CG38) being dated to 3955 +/-60 BP.

The entrance lies 12m to the left of, and 8m above Ffynnon Bueno Cave entrance.


2015. Stephen Aldhouse-Green, Rob Dinnis, Kate Scott & Elizabeth Walker: "The nature of human activity at Cae Gwyn and Ffynnon Beuno caves and the dating of prey and predator presences". This provides an authoritive and up-to-date account of the recent excavation work and an overall history of the two caves. See under Ffynnon Beuno Cave above for further details from this paper.

1888: Henry Hicks. "On the Cae Gwyn Cave, North Wales". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 44, 561-577, 1 February 1888 . This primary source clarifies that the ancient and animal remains were found below glacial deposits, inferring a greater age than some geologists claimed.

Gated entrance to Cae Gwyn Cave #

Main passage (1 metre ranging pole)

Main passage

North end of cave where it was excavated upwards to surface, then backfilled (showing fill retaining wall )

Above and below: Two views of a Rhinoceros femur from Cae Gwyn Cave (Acc. No. 1992.233H)
Photos by: C. Ebbs, with thanks to Grosvenor Museum, Chester
(The museum also has a small display of bones from other North Wales caves)

A small sample of bones from Cae Gwyn

Photos: C. Ebbs, with thanks to Grosvenor Museum, Chester

Original entrance (A) and entrance (B) discovered when sinking a 20ft shaft
Source: Hicks 1888 (see reference above)

Cross-section of 20ft shaft revealing second entrance. This was later back-filled.
The bones were found in the lowest layer
Source: Hicks 1888 (see reference above)


Galltfaenan Caves 1-2 Cefn Archaeological (animal only?)

Two small caves high in the cliffs overlooking the River Elwy, at a point almost directly above the resurgence cave of Ogof Ewenol.

Cave 1: SJ0231570276 +/-16ft Length: 23m

Earliest finds: hyaena, cave bear and reindeer
The entrance is 1.5m high but lowers to a crawl after 12m. An awkward climb 6m from the entrance leads to an upper rift passage (up to 6m high by -1m wide) which becomes too low after 15m.
The cave was excavated in 1871 by Professor T. McKenny Hughes and Mr. Mainwaring who found bones of hyaena, cave bear and reindeer.
Source: J. Wilfrid Jackson (Manchester Museum) in British Caving (1953) ed Cullingford, page 207.
NB No reference to this archaeological cave is mentioned on the CAPRA site at:

Park at the stile by the bridge over the Afon Meirchion. Follow the foot-path towards the River Elwy, but after about 30 paces or so, ascend diagonally up the hill looking for the remains of an old track. Follow this track in the same diagonal direction up into the woods overlooking the River Elwy. Keep looking for a limestone outcrop about 20 metres above and to the right, close to the top of the cliffs. There lie the two entrances.

Cave 2: SJ0232570286 +/-15ft Length: 3m

A quickly tapering and uninspiring tight tube.
About 10 metres to the left of Cave 1.


Gas Pot SJ246508 Esclusham Mountain

Previous name: Ogof Siani

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A draughting swallet (active in floods) excavated in the 1980s from surface vertically for 40m by Grosvenor Caving Club (chiefly Selwyn Edwards, Jerry Dobby, Neil and Pete Robertson, Louise Yin and the writer) involving well over 3000 man-hours in labour.

A free-climbable descent using fixed ladders in places, leads to a stream running over a shale floor. Scaffolding then continues horizontally for about 8m. From this point cavers have pushed a further 30m or so through unstable ground. The dig is known to connect with 'The Quarry' in the nearby cave system of Ogof Llyn Parc.

A chamber about 5m square lies above the roof of the first part of the passage marked as 'Gas Lane' on the sketch above. The roof of this chamber is unstable, but dips down towards Ogof Llyn Parc. Timbering now obscures access to this chamber.

Where the stream is met at the bottom passage, it is possible to carefully climb up about 6m between enormous, unstable, limestone blocks.


Due to the age of the fixed ladders, they should be regarded as suspect.

Huge unstable boulders rise way above the scaffolding at the bottom of the dig.

In the event of these boulders moving, the scaffolding would offer no protection.

Further details from GCC

An interesting phenomenon was observed on one occasion in the 1980s: After a days digging, the team were climbing up towards the surface following a strong UPWARD draught. At a point 30 feet below the entrance they met another strong draught coming DOWN from the surface (this was confirmed by climbing below and above this point again). Where the two draughts met, the combined wind roared into the wall following a rift behind the ladder at the -30ft point. This may suggest an unknown extension of the known system at a shallow depth below surface. No-one has dug at Gas Pot for many years as the dig at the bottom is so unstable; a dig at this draughting rift however is in sound, solid, clean-washed limestone with many open spaces for storing waste rock. Hilti caps, sledge hammer, timber and maybe scaffolding are minimum requirements.
Before taking on such a dig, cavers may need to remove the two entrance lids and replace with an easier lockable entrance cap (the area is sometimes used as a Summer picnic spot).

Other nearby features of interest
A little further downstream are various sinks in the stream bed, one or two of which are abandoned digs. It is also possible to enter one or two caves formed along narrow rifts. The largest being at SJ24635098. The entrance to this is on the north side of the stream in a small outcrop about 5 feet above stream level. The entrance is a tight squeeze, which immediately opens out into a north-south facing rift up to 4 feet wide, 15 feet long and 10 feet deep (free climbable). Narrow fissures run off at floor level at either end.
(Thanks to Chris Vernon for this description)

Looking west along the Aber Sychnant.
Gas Pot entrance lies at the base of the smallest of the two outcrops on the left of photo

Gas Pot entrance in flood

Many cavers in the 1970s held an explosives license. Many pounds of explosives were used at Gas Pot

40 feet down

"Gas Lane" 100 feet down


Gop Cave SJ0864980088 +/-7ft Length: 40m+ Trelawnyd Archaeological (human)

Designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument ref: FL 067

Earliest finds include: Hyaena, woolly rhinoceros, reindeer, horse and bison (Chesters Grosvenor Museum hold ten items including rhinoceros and a human thoracic vertebrae)


PLAN view of Gop Cave

A single cave having two entrances, the main entrance being a wide overhanging rock shelter.

The cave lies 50 metres to the south of the archaeological site of Gop Cairn.

The most westerly entrance begins as a crawl, passing under an aven in the roof. Passing a connecting passage on the right, the route becomes wider and descends to a crawl which continues a further few metres.
The largest entrance is a 13m wide rock shelter, having a crawl passage on the left-hand side, and a larger passage on the right. This terminates at a 5m high aven in the roof.
The crawl passage on the left of the rock-shelter entrance connects after a few metres with the passage leading from the west entrance.

"The bone cave was accidentally discovered by following up a fox earth by Professor Boyd Dawkins when exploring the cairn" (Source: Proceedings of the Dyserth & District Field Club, 1925).

Dawkins often relied upon badger- or fox-holes at the foot of limestone outcrops to suggest the presence of a cave.

A few of the remains from the cave are held by the National Museum of Wales, although they have remained in their vaults, unseen by the public for many decades.
Other items are held by Grosvenor Museum, Chester, and Aura Museums Service, Shotton.

An excellent series of photos can be seen here:

About 30m above the main road in the south side of Gop Hill at foot of small cliff. Or 40 metres south-west of Gop cairn

Several early documentary sources show plans of the cave or caves and all appear to differ in several respects.
They were taken at various stages during excavations and do not therefore show subsequently excavated passages.

NOT a Scheduled Ancient Monument
Although Cadw list "The Gop Caves" as being scheduled, their plans show that only the area outside the entrances is included in the scheduled area, hence the cave itself is not protected.

Chronolgy of excavation

Excavated by Boyd ­Dawkins who found 14 human skeletons of Late Neolithic age. Beneath this deposit was a Pleistocene (Ice Age) layer containing animal bones: ".... in one area of the cave, found rubble walls which made up a rectangular chamber. Within this chamber were fourteen human skeletons laid in crouched positions, along with pottery, a polished flint knife, jet 'belt-sliders' and quartz pebbles........ Beneath this Neolithic deposit there was a layer of Pleistocene cave earth which contained bones of animal species including hyaena, woolly rhinoceros, reindeer, horse and bison".

John H. Morris of Rhyl and T. Allen Glenn found a further 6 skeletons (of which two were children) in the north west passage beyond the Boyd Dawkins burial chamber. Also
found was a 'beautifully made' hand-axe of Graig Lwyd rock from Penmaen­mawr. This excavation work opened the passage to surface creating a second entrance, known as the North West Cave.

T. Allen Glenn, with funding from the National Museum of Wales, excavated the platform in front of the cave, extending the existing trenches of earlier work. He found further human and animal remains and stone tools.

Source of above chronology information: Walker, Elizabeth. (1993) History of Excavations at Gop Cave. Clwyd Archaeological News.


Excavated by William H. Stead (Source: Coflein cat.No. C433032: Photocopies of correspondence, includes letters from the excavator).

Much, if not all, of Steads collection is now held by Aura Museums Service, Shotton.


SMR: 102261, 102262, 102263, 102264

SAM: F 067

Excavation: W.B. Dawkins, 1886; J.H. Morris, 1909-14; W.H. Stead et al., 1956

Curation: Manchester Museum; Chester Museum; National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (19.252, 19.259, 20.339, 36.632/1-9, 47.101/26-39, 61.381, 92.230H)

Burials: 14.


Radiocarbon date examples from the collections held by the National Museum of Wales:

Human mandible (acc. No. 47.97/103) 4570 +/-45 BP

Human mandible (acc. No. 47.97/96) 4840 +/-40 BP

Human cranium (acc. No. 19.259) 4350 +/-40 BP

Main rock shelter containing two passages leading off

Westerly entrance in the foreground, with the main rock shelter entrance beyond

Main passage leading off from the right-hand side of the rock shelter

Two interesting small holes lie at the edge of the wood just to the east of Gop Caves (at SJ0881780104 +/-9ft).
If not already examined by early archaeologists, trial pits could
prove interesting.

Lion tibia from Gop Cave Photo C. Ebbs
With kind permission of Aura Museums Service

Human skull from Gop Cave Photo C. Ebbs
With kind permission of Aura Museums Service


Graigfechan Cave Length 36m SJ14795440 Graig Fechan, near Ruthin

A clean-washed, active cave formed in an isolated narrow strip of limestone. A hands-and-knees passage can be followed in a straight line running parallel to the surface stream. Half way along, a hole on the right emits daylight. The upstream end of the cave gets too low. The silt floor could be lowered to push further, but Geological Survey sheets indicate that the limestone boundary is just a short distance ahead, hence potential may be minimal.
From the low point in the road at SJ14745437 a track runs east up a tiny valley. A few metres along this track on the right is an old gate leading to a stream. Walk up the stream for a few metres and the entrance is on the left.


Grand Turk Passage Length 450m Gwynfryn

Source: Caves & Caving
The Bulletin of the British Cave Research Asssociation Number 33 August 1986
NB: Ogof Llyn Du and Grand Turk Passage are shown as one cave on the survey above. They are in fact two caves: Ragman Passage carrying water from west to east, and Grand Turk Passage originally carrying water from the south-east to the north-west. Close to where the two caves meet, lay the now dry resurgence of Ffynnon Wen.

Known by miners as Llyn Du Cavern.
An impressive descending passage up to 5m wide x 1.5m high which ends at an impenetrable sump.

The cave once acted as the main resurgence for a large part of Esclusham Mountain. Mining has since lowered the water table, and although water levels fluctuate within the cave, it no longer resurges.

The original pre-mining entrance is now blocked, hence access to the cave is through mine workings. This used to involve a longish trip beginning at Cabin Shaft, Minera Mines, but a more recent entrance providing a quicker route lies in woodland above a house, via a steel lid set into the hillside at about SJ259519.

The quicker route passes through a short section of mine workings leading to the top of a 15m mine shaft. T he cave begins as a crawl at the foot of this shaft. The crawl opens into the side of the main passage which dips towards the south-east. A sump formed on a fault lies at the lowest point in the passage. This was dived by Tony Jarratt and Chris Milne in the 1980s (although it has since been found to drain fully), but is too tight. When active prior to mining, the passage acted as the main rising for Esclusham Mountain and its (as yet) undiscovered master cave; the point of issue being known as Ffynnon Wen. Water sinking at Ogof Cefn-y-gist would have risen to surface via Grand Turk Passage, a distance as the crow flies of 2.5 miles.
Enormous potential, but discoveries are unlikely be found from this end. Sinks including Cefn-y-gist Shakeholes at the southern end of the cave system offer better chances of success.

The new quicker access point for Grand Turk Passage Photo: Dave Tyson

The cave begins as a crawl at the base of this internal mine shaft Photo: Dave Tyson

Grand Turk Passage viewed looking down-dip towards the sump Photo: Ian Adams


Gwaenysgor Cave Entrance of 'Upper Cave': SJ0802680421 +/-14ft Length now c.45m Gwaenysgor Archaeological

Earliest finds include: Woolly Rhinoceros, hyena, bear

Survey redrawn for clarity, from the original 1911 survey by Goold

A badly neglected Palaeolithic cave providing evidence of use by humans (human bone, flints and charcoal), together with animal remains at least 12,000 years of age.

Following confusion and poor research by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) , they invented the fictitious name of Gop Farm Cave . It should be noted however, that no cave of this name exists. There are just two caves hereabouts: Gop Cave and Gwaenysgor Cave (or Gwaenysgor Stalactite Cave, as it was originally called, before the formations were removed.)

Cave description

Lower Cave : 'Harrison's Entrance' (after the miner who discovered it in 1885) was a shallow shaft which happened to break into a cave where bones were found in a roomy chamber, originally called the 'Lower Cave'. The entrance shaft (originally 4m from surface to floor of chamber) currently has a triangular cast-iron inspection cover fitted into a concrete cap, below which a fixed ladder gave access to the chamber. Unfortunately this half of the cave has been used as a septic tank by Welsh Water for the last 40 years and is now filled.

Upper Cave : Harrison found a route leading upwards from the Lower Cave along a narrow passage leading to the discovery of the ‘Upper Cave’. This was later opened to surface creating a second entrance (Goold 1926). Although this half of the cave has not been subject to infilling with sewage, it is no longer a pleasant place to visit (see Recent Update below). The entrance lies about 25 metres to the north (of Harrison’s shaft) where a steep slope down provides access to a 25m long chamber. At the north end of this chamber is a 15 - 20m excavated crawl. Near the base of the entrance slope is the connecting crawl against the west wall (usually obscured by debris migrating from the entrance slope) running southwards back to the Lower Cave. This is 14m long with a 3m vertical descent near the end (shown as 'pothole' on the survey above).

Recent update

The Upper Cave was examined by the writer in 2015 when it was found to have deteriorated since his last visit 20 or 30 years ago: Although the cave was previously well drained having dry floor deposits, it appears that the lowest part of the cave now floods during wet periods, to a depth of about 2 metres at the lowest point in the cave. Although no water was visible on this visit, a 20cm deep layer of soft, almost liquid, dark grey mud was found near the northern end of the cave, and flood levels are suggested by detritus adhering to the walls. There is a possible explanation to the source of this contamination: Not only did Welsh Water lay their sewerage overflow pipe into the Lower cave in the 1960s, but Clwyd County Council's Highways Department also laid a drainage pipe from the nearby road to prevent highway flooding, also in the 1960s. This entered the Lower Cave a few feet above the height of the sewerage pipe, but on the west side of the now-filled Harrison's Shaft.

Although Welsh Water claim that all sewage discharge has now (2014) ceased, flood water from the road is continuing to enter the Upper Cave. It is therefore likely that this water now seeps through the filled Lower Cave on its way to the Upper Cave (see survey above), hence the grey mud deposit. This is a great shame and could, in time, result in the loss of the remaining half of Gwaenysgor Cave. As the Upper Cave is now an unpleasant place to be, coupled with the fact that so much work would be required to prepare the cave for any archaeological work (by removing the large amount of earth and debris filling the entrance slope), it is probably the end for Gwaenysgor Cave as an archaeological site. A testament to 40 years of professional neglect.

Access: Consent to visit the cave should be sought from Gop Farm

"A Brief History of Gwaenysgor Cave" (Jan 2015) by Cris Ebbs is available as a PDF at the very bottom of this page. It includes the original 1911 Goold survey.

Brief history

The cave was first discovered in 1885 by mine captain George Harrison, a prospecting mining engineer. In search of ore he excavated a shaft which after a few feet, happened to break into a cave where many animal bones were found in a roomy chamber.

Between 1885 and1910 several excavations were carried out, when ' several bushels of bones ' were found, but no records of the work or the bones are known to exist.

The mining prospector eventually filled Harrison's shaft, but “ After his death the cave fell into the hands of two local people and was made into a show place (around 1910 ), but later fell into ruin ".

A stone 'igloo' existed over the Upper Cave entrance in 1920 . A photograph of this can be seen online at:

The cave was then excavated in 1929 by Dr. J. Wilfrid Jackson (Manchester Museum) and the Dyserth & District Field Club, assisted by Professor Boswell and Mr E. Montag F.G.S.. They found remains of “ Bison Reindeer and human beings in the re-excavated debris filling Harrisons shaft ” . CPAT claims that these could be remains from the nearby Gop Cave, thrown into a shaft at Gop Farm around the time it was filled (CPATs report 980, 2009). This however, in no way negates the importance of Gwaenysgor Cave as a rare archaeological site, as Goold states: “ In the lower cave, embedded in boulder clay, and lying in the entrance to the feeder marked on the plan, the writer found teeth and bones of Woolly Rhinoceros, Hyena, Wolf, bear, Boar, Deer and Elk” . The article adds that “Two unworked flakes of flint were also found inside the cave, as well as charcoal. Round about 1911 Mr Goold had the good fortune to find a number of bones at a point a little way from the foot of Harrisons shaft”. These bones were identified by Dr J. Wilfrid Jackson as woolly rhino, cave hyaena, wild boar and great Irish deer. NB: Dr. J. Wilfrid Jackson has been described as " Britain's leading cave prehistorian from the 1920s to 1960s " ('The Cave Hunters' edited by M.J. Bishop).

Professional inaction
All North Wales' professional archaeological bodies ignored the pollution that was destroying the 'lower cave' below Harrison's Entrance. It was first brought to the attention of archaeologists by Valdemar & Jones in 1970. In 1979, an officer of CPAT was told of the problem by the landowner during a site visit (CPAT site visit record PRN 102239 ), but no attempt was made to inspect the underground damage below Harrisons Entrance. Archaeologists from Clwyd County Council also visited the cave in 1979: Examining the wrong entrance, their 'Site visit form' states: "We saw no obvious signs of this (pollution). It may well have seeped away. It is a threat for urgent action". This last advice however, was ignored and the problem allowed to continue unabated.
In the 1980s this writer raised the issue with Welsh Water, CADW, CPAT, The National Museum of Wales, the Environment Agency and Clwyd County Council, but none were willing to act.
CPAT made official visits to the cave, not only in 1979, but also in 1988, 1993 and 2009, but on all occasions the 'Lower Cave' below Harrison's Entrance was not explored internally .
The damage could have been minimised by designating the site a Scheduled Ancient Monument (as the cave was clearly under threat) if CPAT or Cadw had taken the matter seriously rather than simply relying upon unacceptably poor field reports.
Even the Environment Agency were reluctant to take any notice of the threat to the cave over a period of many years: At one point (in 2010) they wrongly stated that the sewage pipe was nothing to do with Welsh Water. Requests for specific information were ignored. Only when Freedom of Information Requests were raised, did they finally agree to a site meeting with Welsh Water in 2014, when the matter of sewage discharge was settled by an assurance by Welsh Water that all discharge had now ceased and that they would not re-direct their pipe into the Upper Cave (by which time the Lower Cave was already completely filled and their pipe blocked).

References (in chronological order)

Anon. (1913). "Gwaenysgor Church and Cave, and the Gop". Proceedings of the Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and District Field Club. For years 1910-11.

Glenn, T.A.. (1913). "Distribution of Neolithic Implements in Northern Flintshire". Archaeologia Cambrensis.

Goold, H.V. (1913). "The Gwaenysgor Bone Cave". Northern Flintshire, Vol 1. Pages 71-75.

Anon. (1925). "Gwaenysgor and the Gop". Proceedings of the Dyserth & District Field Club. For 1924.

Davies, E. (1925). "Hut circles and ossiferous cave on Gop Farm, Gwaunysgor, Flintshire" Archaeologia Cambrensis.

Goold, H.V. (1926). "Gwaenysgor Stalactite Caves". Proceedings of the Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and District Field Club . For years 1924-25.

Jackson, J.W. (1929). "Some Caves and the Club's Cave at Gwaenysgor". Proc. of the Dyserth & District Field Club.

Jackson, J.W. (1931). "Visit to the Club's Cave at Gwaenysgor" Proceedings of the Dyserth & District Field Club. For 1930.

Jackson, J.W. (1933). "Visit to Cefn and Other Local Caves". Proceedings of the Dyserth & District Field Club. For 1932.

Anon. (c.1937). British Speleological Association record card (for Manchester Museum). Now held by Buxton Museum, Derbyshire. Suggests that the extinct animal bones belonged to the Jackson collection at Manchester Museum.

Jackson, J.W. (1939). Personal letter (listing animal remains from various caves) to Lionel Cowley of the National Mu seum, Cardiff. Now held at Buxton Museum, Derbyshire.

Neaverson, E. (1942). " A Summary of the Records of Pliestocene and Postglacial Mammalia from North Wales and Merseyside ". Proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society.

Wild, P. (1946). British Caver. Survey only, based upon Goold's survey.

Jackson, J.W. (1946-47). "The Upper Pliestocene Fauna and its Relation to the Ice Age". Proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society.

Davies, E. (1949). "Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Flintshire".

Jackson, J. W. (1953) "Archaeology & Palaeontology", in 'British Caving' edited by C.H.D. Cullingford.

Stride, A.H. & Stride, R.D.. (1953) "Britain Underground".

Jenkins, D.W. and Ann Mason Williams (1963 and 1967) "Caves in Wales and the Marches".

Bishop, M.J. ed. (1982) "The Cave Hunters: Biographical Sketches of the lives of Sir William Boyd Dawkins and Dr. J. Wilfrid Jackson" by Derbyshire Museum Service. ISBN 0 906753 02 3.

Hankinson, R. and Silvester, R.J. (2009) "Caves: The Scheduling Enhancement Programme" Report 980, by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust.

Dinnis, R. & Ebbs, C. (2013) "Cave deposits of North Wales: some comments on their archaeological importance and an inventory of sites of potential interest". Cave and Karst Science 40 : 28-34.

Ebbs, C. (2015) "A Brief History of Gwaenysgor Cave near Prestatyn". Unpublished, but as mentioned above, this is available as a free PDF download at the very bottom of this page.

Location of the two entrances, viewed from the gate at the small sewerage pumping station

'Old Entrance' to the 'Upper Cave' in 2015

'Harrisons Entrance' is indicated by the triangular cast-iron manhole cover in the centre of the photo.

The hole in the foreground is the result of a collapse and once provided access to the ladder below the lid.

The sewage however, has filled the entire Lower Cave except for a depth of 2 metres below the manhole cover.

View from the 'Upper Cave' looking up at 'Old Entrance' (c. 2010?) Photo: Ian Adams

View from the Upper Cave looking up at 'Old Entrance' in 2015

Main passage of Upper Cave in 2015

Main passage of Upper Cave in 2015. Note the one metre ranging pole for scale in distance. Photo: Jerry Dobby


Holly Bush Cave SJ1909665371 Length: 5m Alyn Gorge

The cave entrance measures 2 metres wide by less than a metre in height. A single passage tapering down and becoming too tight after 5 metres.
A shallow trench a few inches deep was dug a few years ago by UCET. No archaeological finds were reported.

From the Pantymwyn to Cilcain road at SJ189652, take the public Upper Leet Footpath north for 340 paces to what remains of a tubular metal stile (see photo below).
The cave is about 20 metres above the track, but as there is no easy route up from the footpath, walk back along the path for 45 paces. A route up can be found here, but bear left as you ascend.
The entrance lies at the foot of a small outcrop only 3 metres below an open field.

Stile viewed looking north. Walk south 45 paces from the stile to find a route up to the cave

Holly Bush Cave entrance

Holly Bush Cave


Kiln Cave SJ2331047900 +/-15ft Length 28m World’s End

Has also been referred to as Limekiln Cave

A flood resurgence cave

A low entrance immediately enters a narrow rift running parallel to the cliff face. At floor level, a crawl continues into the hillside. After a few metres is a tight, 90º bend to the right. After another 2m the passage enters (at floor level) a narrow rift 2m high. It is just possible to stand upright in the rift, where an inlet passage enters about 3 feet above floor level. This has been pushed for a few metres to where it's possible to turn around. A fallen slab blocks further progress and supports further loose boulders (see photos below). Wirral Caving Group carried out some work in the cave in 2012, but found no major extensions.

Under normal weather conditions, the cave is dry, but in severe flood it disgorges a torrent. In 1976 when the cave resurged, the resulting flood washed away part of the tarmac road and piled boulders up against the fence beside the road.

A note in the writers diary reported "a very strong draught was felt sucking in, rises up the rift at the end" (19th October 1975).

A promising cave in urgent need of enlarging. An ideal project for Hilti-capped enthusiasts.

Descending towards World's End from the Minera direction, a lime-kiln is seen beside the road just a hundred metres or so before the ford. Park in the lay-by here and ascend to the top of the scree. The entrance is at the foot of the outcrop.

Kiln Cave entrance Photo: Dave Tyson

The entire cave is a low crawl Photo: Dave Tyson

Pushing the end passage (April 2012) Photo: Dave Tyson

A loose block fallen from the roof blocks the way on..... Photo: Dave Tyson


PDF download below ....

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