Church Hole

Before this cave was excavated it was used as a byre for cattle in the late 1800s. These animals disturbed the sediments from the front of the cave and exposed bone remains. Mr Tebbit, foreman at a nearby quarry, used to collect bones and it was these finds which led to the excavation of the cave.


Who excavated Chuch Hole?

Soon after the dicoveries by Tebbit it was not long before Thomas Heath, the curator at Derby museum, and the Reverend Magens Mello carried out exploratory excavations in 1875. They worked from a layer of flowstone about two metres higher than the floor level today. In the following year William Boyd Dawkins had joined Mello and Heath and during that year they completely dug out the cave deposits.

Who used Church Hole during the Ice Age?

Neanderthals were the first humans to use this site between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago shown by tools made from quartzite and flint. Further finds of flint, bone and antler tools shows that hunters camped at this cave towards the end of the Last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago.

Which animals lived in the area?

As the excavation progressed, Heath records the cave being a mass of bone. Remains included bones of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, horse, reindeer and bison. Many of these bones were fragments having been chewed by spotted hyaena, remains of which were also found.

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