Martha's Pots, Esclusham Mountain


A line of shakeholes near Martha’s Shaft (a lead mine) about 1000m north of World’s End. All have small openings at their bases sitting over vertical rifts.
The largest (E005) descends about 10m to a clay floor in a chamber formed along the line of a fault. The fault quickly pinches out.
The floor deposits were examined many years ago for archaeological potential, with negative results.
Ladder and lifeline or SRT recommended.

E014 SJ2429649093 Open Rift
E009 SJ2426049043 Open Rift
E006 SJ2424249003 Open Rift
E005 SJ2422548947 Pothole
E004 SJ2421748928 Open Rift
The reference numbers relate to a rapid survey of open holes carried out in 2009/10. The full list of 26 locations can be seen on Page 15: Springs, Sinks & Shakeholes under Esclusham Mountain Shakeholes.

The area is best reached by parking at SJ237496 and walking south-east for about 800m. Strike off to the left just before reaching the mine waste tips.

Matt's Cave
SJ02357048 (Archwilio website) Cefn Archaeological

A rock shelter said to have produced archaeological artifacts described as "flake and knapping debitage of chert of Palaeolithic date, now in the NMGW" (Archwilio website).
The only reference to any site of this name appears to be that by Silvester & Owen (see Source below), but this does not give any information relating to who made the finds or a description of the cave itself.
When this was raised with CPAT, they provided the following: "..... the record for the chert was made on 09/12/1998 which I suspect means that it was recorded by Stephen Green (NMW) or Ken Brassil (CPAT) and is probably the result of field work during work at or visits to Pontnewydd Cave" (pers. comm. 14/5/19).

The images below are assumed to be Matt's Cave as this appears to be the only cave-like feature near the NGR provided by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT).

When visited by the writer in 2016, the floor was almost entirely comprised of limestone bedrock. No archaeological deposits appear to remain.

Silvester, R J & Owen, W J , 2002 , CPAT Report 467: Early Prehistoric Settlement in Mid and North-East Wales: the Lithic Evidence:

View from the south side of the River Elwy

View from within, although the fisheye lense makes the shelter appear larger than it is


Moel Hiraddug Cave Largely quarried away SJ063789 Dyserth

Explored in 1960 by Shepton Mallett Caving Club, the cave was described as 60m long 'to a pot in the floor containing a rotting sheep'.

The following year Shropshire Mining Club was formed and they also visited the cave, describing it thus: “Reported by the S.M.C.C. to be blocked after 40ft by the usual dead sheep. The remains of this were found at the bottom of an 8ft drop into a passage type cave 132ft total length, a double passage cave one passage directly above the other. These contained a good number of excellent stal formations somewhat disturbed by nearby blasting”.

Quarrying then took much of the cave away and it now only consists of a passage a few metres long to a bad collapse. The quarry is no longer in use.

Entering Dyserth from the Trelawnyd direction, the north end of Moel Hiraddug can be seen off to the left. The cave may still just be visible near to top edge of the quarry.

NB A cave was found in 1961 in Dyserth Quarry containing interesting formations close to Moel Hiraddug Cave. For details see 'Dyserth Quarry Cave' (Page 14. Lost & non-caves). It is possible the two caves were once connected and infers that a more detailed examination of the quarry could be worthwhile.


Murphy’s Pot Depth 40m SJ1904864417 +/-24ft Alyn Gorge Archaeological (animal only)

A chamber formed by collapse beneath the perimeter of a large dry shakehole. A 4m fixed ladder descent from the entrance enters the 5m x 10m x 3m high chamber. A timber and scaffolding walkway crosses the chamber to a further ladder descent of 12m. A series of excavated short drops then lead to the working face. Digging continues through loose boulders and clay against a ‘solid’ wall.
An assortment of animal bones were found in the chamber including horse and wild boar dated as being 5000 to 7000 years of age.
The cave was first discovered in 1993. (see also Millennium Pot – in opposite side of same shakehole). Could possibly connect with the nearby Ogof Hesp Alyn cave system which terminates at a point about 150m to the north-east and perhaps 50m below the lowest point in the dig.

Access: On private land where an access agreement is operating. Contact GCC or UCET for access information.

Warning: The cave is rather unstable and large areas of the boulder and clay floor are on the move.

Murphy's Pot entrance (not to be confused with Millenium Pot a few metres away)

Animal bones as first seen when the cave was discovered. Some thought to be 5000 years old

Photo: Ian Adams

The dig in the lower part of the cave

Walkway and 110v lighting installed in the main chamber

Photo: Dave Merchant


Nant Gain Caves 1-10 SJ184650 Cilcain

Coed Nant Gain is a small wooded valley on a western tributary of the River Alyn.
The valley contains 10 caves, although one or two others have been lost due to deliberate concealment of their entrances by a 'caver' over forty years ago.
A little work in the 1990s by GCC identified those described below. Further work has been carried out by UCET.

A surface stream sinks at several places along the Nant Gain stream bed and rises again at the nearby Pont Newydd Rising on the west bank of the River Alyn.

Archaeological: One or two of the higher north-easterly caves contain undisturbed deposits of unknown potential.

NB Coed Nant Gain is a privately owned wood with a wildlife study centre. Prior permission to enter the land is required for all ten caves.

Cave 1: Length: 12m
A 2m diameter passage descends for 5m to a chamber 3m wide by 4m high. A passage on the left runs from the chamber for 5m. Much of the cave has been excavated (by the landowner?), yielding animal bones of little archaeological significance.
Further unexcavated deposits remain.
Entrance is about 20m above the track in a small outcrop.

Cave 2: Length: 3m

A 1m high entrance ends where digging on the right may extend it.
A few metres left of Cave 1.

Cave 3: Length: 10m

An undulating passage becoming blocked by clay.

The first of two caves in small outcrop immediately beside the track.

Cave 4: Length: 3m

A short passage which if dug, should connect with Cave 3.
Contains floor deposits of unknown archaeological potential.
A few metres to the left of Cave 3.

Cave 5: Length: 4m?

A large entrance and short passage excavated by the landowner in the 1970s.

About 20 metres to the left of Cave 4 and about 20m above stream level.

Cave 6: Length: 3m

A 1m high entrance quickly becomes too tight.
Obvious entrance at stream level.

Cave 7: Length: 4m

A hands-and-knees passage excavated from the entrance in 1997 by GCC. Ends at a boulder and clay blockage.

About 100 metres upstream of the wooden footbridge which is below the study centre.

Nant Gain Cave No 7 Photo: Ian Adams

Cave 8: Length: 8m

A low entrance opens immediately into a chamber with a 4m pot in the floor. At the bottom is a low bedding passage which was followed in 2011 (by UCET) to a point beneath the stream bed where daylight enters from above.

Entrance is about 3m above stream level in the south bank.

Nant Gain Cave No 8 Photo: Ian Adams

Cave 9: Cilcain Cave SJ1806264920 +/-12ft Length: 125m


A small entrance opens into a narrow standing-sized rift chamber with low crawls off to left and right.
The passage ahead was excavated between 1975 and 1979 by the writer & others. This extended the cave from 8 metres in length to about 120 metres. The resulting tight crawl with a wet pool, eventually leads to several narrow but roomy rift chambers up to 10m high. Good potential but the way on is not obvious. Further work at the end of the cave could be made far easier if the existing access passage was made larger by lowering the floor a few inches.

The cave appears to have been active within the last few hundred years, as excavated material from the cave comprised only stream pebbles and fine gravels.

It was reported in 2013 that the passages just inside the entrance to the left and right, had been partially blocked by animal activity. The way on ahead may also need a little clearing to restore access.

There is now little trace of the low earth bank outside the entrance noted in the mid 1960s. This may have been placed deliberately to prevent the surface stream taking an underground course through the cave. This hypothesis is supported by this account: "The (surface) course of the stream past Cilcain Cave was not known below (downstream of) the cave. The stream was visited again in 1964 and found to be disappearing into a number of indeterminate sinks a few hundred yards below Cilcain Cave" (Source: Ellis, B.M..1966. Journal No 1, Shepton Mallet Caving Club). The passage floor inside the cave lies at the same height as the surface stream.

Incorrectly re-named by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust as Rhyd-y-Feni Cave in their 'Report 980' (2009), despite several published references naming the site as Cilcain Cave, including:
Stride, A.H. & R.D. (1953), Britain Underground, by Dalesman Publishing and
Jenkins, D.W and Mason-Williams, Ann. (1963 and 1967) "Caves in Wales and the Marches" , also by Dalesman Publishing.
Why CPAT chose to include this cave in a report on potential archaeological caves is a mystery, particularly when it only contains recent stream sediments (and badger detritus in the entrance area)...... whilst Caves 1 & 2 further downstream, which do appear to contain deposits of potential interest, were not mentioned.

Directions: After seeking permission from the landowner, leave the road just south of Cilcain village at SJ17716488, taking the footpath east for 450 metres to the footbridge over a stream. Leave the path and walk downstream a further 200 metres. The entrance is at foot of a tiny outcrop in the north bank. The entrance is currently sealed with wire mesh.

Nant Gain Cave No 9 (Cilcain Cave) plotted onto Google Earth image

Nant Gain Cave No 9 (Cilcain Cave) . Entrance in photo centre. Photo: Andy Burrows

Nant Gain Cave No 9 (Cilcain Cave). View looking in from entrance Photo: Andy Burrow

Nant Gain Cave No 9 (Cilcain Cave), exiting the low crawl which leads to the 1975 extension

Cave 10: Badger Cave Length: 40m

A tight excavated crawl having a passage on the right which enters a chamber 4m high. Further work should extend it, as the continuing passage floor appears to simply need lowering.
Excavated in 1984 and 1998.

No artifacts were found during excavations. Fully excavated, the passage is no larger than 0.5m in height, hence the floor deposits are unlikely to be of archaeological interest.

About 30 metres upstream of Cave 9 (Cilcain Cave), just on the north side of a barbed wire fence.

Nant Gain Cave No 10 (Badger Cave) entrance


Nant-y-Fuach Rock Shelter Dyserth

See under Dyserth Castle Cave No.3 on page 4


Nant-yr-Ogof Length 6m SJ066806 Meliden

Also known as Tan-yr-allt Cave.

An uninspiring rock shelter with a silted tube leading off which becomes too low.

In cliffs close to Tan-yr-allt cottage.