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A North-Western Habitat: the Paleoethology and Colonisation of a European Peninsula

Rogan D.S. Jenkinson

Cite this as: Jenkinson, R.D.S. 2023 A North-Western Habitat: the Paleoethology and Colonisation of a European Peninsula (a comprehensive analysis of excavations in Pin Hole Cave, Creswell Crags), Internet Archaeology 61.

4. Stratigraphic Distribution of Archaeological Evidence from Pin Hole Cave

4.1 Objective

The main objective of this section is to describe the archaeological remains from Pin Hole Cave and to reconstruct their stratigraphic distribution within the cave by use of the recording methods (identified in 1984). Archaeological assemblages recognised on the basis of their stratigraphic distribution are then comprehensively described.

Armstrong (1929a) noted extensive evidence of human occupation from the cave. The earlier excavations by Mello recorded an unknown but low quantity of artefacts (Mello 1875, 63). From Armstrong's excavations, there are also concentrations of charcoal, preserved in collections today, which he considered to be hearths and bone associated with lithic assemblages. Armstrong has noted that in his view, there are three discrete Middle Palaeolithic and two Upper Palaeolithic assemblages (Armstrong 1936; also Figure 6). Each of these is stratigraphically separate. Jacobi et al. (1998) questioned the studies of Campbell (1977, 48), who recognised two separate Upper Palaeolithic assemblages within the upper stratigraphic levels that include one of Armstrong's identified Middle Palaeolithic or Mousterian assemblages. In his study, Campbell noted a number of typological overlaps. It appears that both Jacobi and Campbell have compared the assemblages according to horizontal stratigraphic levels and have paid little attention to the effect of a gently sloping datum and sediment infill, the existence of which is corroborated by the nature of the surviving sediment infill. This led Armstrong to postulate the existence of three Mousterian assemblages. This is a remarkable observation, which was later to attract much criticism, particularly by Jacobi et al. (1998) who discounted Armstrong's observations and failed to understand the cave stratigraphy.

Studies by the author have demonstrated that Armstrong's excavation and views are credible based upon diagrams produced by him which clearly show the relevant layers. Copies of these are housed in Oxford, Sheffield and an archive housed in the Creswell Crags Centre itself. The plan has been incorporated within Figure 6. Additionally, excavation by the author commencing in 1981 cleared the large disturbed areas of the cave rear and located a constructed wall of limestone slabs and clast derived from Armstrong's work which also contained faual remains from his excavation. Many authors have also ignored that Dorothy Garrod kept notes concerning the slab layers and reported her views to the British Association of Science regulaly during the 1930s (Unpublished correspondence, Sheffield Museum and Creswell Crags Centre). Reconstruction of archaeological and palaeontological remains presented in Jenkinson (1984) and here clearly shows areas sterile of archaeological and biological remains which separate archaeological distributions. The occurrence coincides with the slab layers suggested by Amstrong.

All artefactual evidence within this study is itemised and summarised by stratigraphic layer in the digital archive. The stratigraphic distribution of artefacts within the cave is of a different nature when replotted according to their distance from the cave entrance and their depth below the calrete, capping, and floor. The results are shown in Figure 7.

4.2 Reconstruction, temporal and spatial distribution

Figure 7
Figure 7: A reconstructed distribution of archaeological remains excavated from Pin Hole Cave (Jenkinson 1984; Digital archive)

The area of Armstrong's excavation has been divided into a series of 30×30cm units of varying depth along the inclined gradient of cave sediments. The location of individual artefacts follows the annotations marked upon each object by Armstrong. In some instances, the excavation record has no lateral detail and may be simply marked with a depth and to a general area. For instance, some objects are marked '12.P' indicating a depth of 12 feet (3.66m) within the passage area. Such objects are marked by horizontal lines indicating their maximum distribution. The angularity reflected in the final distribution is an artefact of re-plotting the location of remains within the reconstructed one foot cubes (30×30cm) which were the basic units of Armstrong's excavations. The overall effect is exaggerated by the sloping deposit. Despite the crude accuracy of the re-plotting, sterile areas between occupations in the locations where Armstrong suggested slab layers or concentrations of limestone clast are clear. Later studies (Jacobi et al. 1998) have utilised the same mapped calcrete capping deposit but have concentrated on lithics that have associated three-dimensional information and which, despite the exclusion of some lithics, results in a distribution of a similar nature.

The reconstructed distribution indicates the stratigraphic occurrence of lithic assemblages within the cave and indicate that there are four stratigraphically separated areas of distribution inclined along the contemporary and sloping cave floor. Large amounts of material occur within the area, referred to as the passage by Armstrong, and become more numerous and extensive in the uppermost part of the sequence. The importance of this finding is that later studies, often based upon lithic typology (Campbell 1977; Currant and Jacobi 2001), have been severely critical of the validity of Armstrong's original observation. These studies also suggest that Armstrong's comments concerning concentrations of limestone clast, referred to by him as slab layers within the cave passage and rear area, are accurate observations. The temporal disruption of lithic distribution occurs precisely at these depths. It is also clear that the contemporary cave floor has been undulating in form and that the lithic distribution aligns with this, and the major restrictions to access (caused by the downward projection of the cave roof) appears to be a significant factor controlling use of the cave rear. Evidence of limestone clast and slab layers within the cave rear, and which were reported by Armstrong, indicate extensive erosion of the cave roof within this area, which in places reaches the modern limestone surface and must have been inaccessible at times or at least inhibited use by humans. The nature of the reconstruction and the record of both two and three dimensionally recorded lithics inhibits specific comment upon the association of some objects. This is the case in the main areas of lithic distribution, which also contained limestone clast and blocks, which were of similar or greater size than individual excavated units, and is of particular significance during the Middle Palaeolithic when Neanderthal groups would have been confronted by a rock-strewn cave floor within the narrowest part of the cave and not by a relatively smooth surface grading upwards into the cave rear. This area would also have probably been one of the driest and well-drained parts of the cave. The prominent calcrete formation within the entrance area was also encountered by both Mello (1875) and Armstrong (1925b) and is also evident within the uppermost lithic distribution, which appears to be literally wrapped around it.

Excavation by Magens Mello within the cave entrance noted that much of the vertebrate bone was cemented within calcrete and appeared to be orientated by water flow (Mello 1875). The area of excavation extended from the talus into a prominent calcrete feature known as the 'Pin Hole', which is immediately below a significant rupture within the cave roof and which extends to the limestone surface. There is little doubt that water flow from this source has had a significant but localised effect upon the infilling sediments. The prominent calcrete feature, which is evident today, also seems to have acted as a trap to block the outflow of both sediment and water from the cave interior.

Figure 8
Figure 8: Stratigraphic distribution of artefacts (source data: Digital archive IN44, 45 & 46)

Leslie Armstrong published a number of comments relevant to his excavations within the Pin Hole Cave but many are of a very specific nature. In 1927, Dorothy Garrod, who was working with Armstrong at that time, wrote a series of notes intended to be presented to the Derbyshire Caves Committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. A very faded original of this survives within the archive of Sheffield City Museum (Garrod 1927). It was transcribed in 1979 by the author and, given its importance, is reproduced in the digital archive. The document is intended to report work at the Pin Hole Cave and several other Derbyshire caves. In the context of the following discussion, the four main points described within the report are of considerable significance and are therefore summarised as follows:

4.3 Reconstruction of the temporal and spatial distribution of artefacts and clast within the Pin Hole sediments

Since Armstrong's excavation, there has been constant comment upon the distribution of archaeological material from this cave (Campbell 1977; Jenkinson 1984; Jacobi et al. 1998; White and Pettitt 2011). Armstrong recorded sufficient dimensional information on the archaeological deposits to allow reconstruction of a temporal and spatial distribution within the cave sediments. This is illustrated in the digital archive (Reconstruction Lithic and Clasts) / (Reconstruction with Hearth). The reconstruction shows the distribution of:

In each case, the number of items utilised in the reconstruction is shown along with the total number of those known from the cave. The importance of this reconstruction is that it illustrates the context of each category of object without preselection of remains and as a result localised contextual variation is easier to assess.

The initial reconstruction of archaeological material (Jenkinson 1984) summarised groups of objects by archaeological 'spit' to show the maximum distribution of several assemblages that included both Middle and Upper Palaeolithic and with a collection of unsorted or categorised artefacts in the uppermost levels (Figure 7). The more comprehensive reconstruction produced for this report offers considerable comment upon the total context and nature of the artefacts assemblages, and particularly that of quartzite objects. The inclusion of further contextual material also renders several structural features more obvious than the 1984 reconstruction. Important features include:

  1. The distribution of the two Middle Palaeolithic assemblages replicates that published in 1984 including their distribution, which appears to follow the south-facing downslope of sediment. They are both described in terms of distribution with 'sterile' or no artefact areas around them.
  2. The Upper Palaeolithic assemblages and overlying artefacts of younger age exhibit a more horizontal distribution within the cave with the exception of the extreme rear.
  3. There is an interface or hiatus, seen in stratigraphic level 5, between the assemblage of Middle Palaeolithic type and the Upper Palaeolithic assemblages. This is indicated by an unusual distribution of lithic and clast which is concentrated and extensive within less than the dimensions of a 1 foot (0.3m) spit. This level also contains several flint artefacts that have rolled surfaces. The hiatus may in part be the result of low-energy water passage downslope and to the south. The feature has been significantly highlighted by disturbance.
  4. Leslie Armstrong records a hearth at 2-3ft (0.6-0.9m) in the area 35ft (10m) north of the entrance. The construction of the charcoal, lithic, clast and vertebrate bone within the area suggests a substantial hearth area that may have existed for some time. The area within 33-42ft (9.9m-12.6m) and between depth 1-5ft (0.3-1.5m) is distinct and outlined by the sporadic occurrence of charcoal. The area may be of greater size and extend a further 10m to the north. Lithic and clast items are concentrated in depth level 5 within this area and the horizontal occurrence includes 4 quartzite artefacts and 17 flint artefacts over the 9m length. This contrasts with all surrounding layers.
  5. There is also a concentration of vertebrate bone within this area which includes 28 Reindeer body parts consisting of 5 limb, 2 axial and 21 cranial fragments. Additionally there are 26 antlers, 10 of which are cast antler and 5 derived from massacred individuals. This is in complete contrast to the surrounding few metres of sediment. Finally, there are Wild Horse bone remains which include 2 limb, 1 axial and 3 cranial parts and European Bison parts, including 8 limb, 5 axial and no cranial parts. The combined evidence of structural form, clast and lithic concentration and the remains of three species (in a form that hints at sophisticated carcass processing) strongly suggest that this is a concentration centred on a fire or hearth. The presence of Reindeer antler from both massacred animals and cast indicates an activity more complex than cooking. There is at least one bone engraving associated with lithics in the northern slope of this feature.
    In an attempt to date the stratigraphic sequence within the cave, Rowe et al. (1989) obtained age estimates on stalagmite fragments from levels that can now be located to inside this feature. These produced age estimations of 32.5-38 ka. The application of radiometric dating on bone of Mammoth, Reindeer and Hyaena from within this area by Jacobi et al. (1998) produced age estimations of between 34-38Ka. Irrespective of the aim to date these particular levels at the top of the stratigraphic sequence, the dates clearly show they contained older vertebrate bone and stalagmite fragment. The most likely explanation for their presence is that the depression revealed by artefact and bone clustering has been excavated into older sediments. The presence of charcoal suggests that this is a 'prepared' area for a fire-place. This is illustrated in the digital archive. The age of this feature is more problematic. The style of predation revealed by the remains, particularly of Bison and Horse, certainly equates with late Middle Palaeolithic but the feature is more likely to be of the earliest Upper Palaeolithic. The disturbance extends to and exposes quartzite lithics of undoubted Middle Palaeolithic age at the base.
  6. A significant concentration is also apparent in the area within 63-70ft (18.9-21m) north from the entrance and within stratigraphic levels 5-9 (1.5-2.7m). Charcoal was noted within this area by Armstrong but has since been lost. The area contains 9 flint lithics, 3 quartzite and 9 natural quartzite pebbles and flakes. The assemblage is of Middle Palaeolithic type. Associated with these are 21 Wild Horse bones (2 axial, 7 limb and 12 cranial) and 49 European Bison bones (19 limb, 13 axial and 17 crania). Reindeer antler includes a total of 24 pieces (11 cast, 4 massacred and 9 fragments associated with 3 axial body parts). This is clearly not a carnivore accumulation but seems to be a small collection of lithics associated with 94 vertebrate bones, which include axial body parts, cast and massacred antlers.

4.4 Early Middle Palaeolithic

The lowest occurring concentration of artefacts within the cave is between 10-12ft (3-3.6m) below the stalagmite datum and 24m north of the entrance. A total of 52 artefacts can be replotted according to Armstrong's handwritten annotations and these are of Middle Palaeolithic type. A further 64 artefacts of similar type lack sufficient stratigraphic information to be sourced to the excavation. The main concentration occurs between 15 to 24m within the cave and on an apparently sloping surface. It is also separated from other artefact assemblages by an archaeologically sterile layer, which occurs at 2.16m below the calcrete layer. Within the rear of the cave (between 19.8 to 24.7m) this sterile layer equates with the highest 'slab layer' reported by Armstrong (1928a).

The stratigraphic occurrence is further separated stratigraphically by another archaeologically sterile layer at a depth of 2.4 to 2.7m below the calcrete and this layer may equate with the highest 'slab layer' reported by Armstrong at a depth of 3.7m below the calcrete. The discrepancy in the depth of its reported occurrence may be due to the use of a reconstructed horizontal datum point. Further information and illustrations of artefacts are available in the digital archive.

4.5 Later Middle Palaeolithic

A distinct assemblage is stratigraphically distributed within levels 11 and 12 and spatially within the cave passage and slope to the 'inner chamber'.

Figure 9a Figure 9b
Figure 9a-b: Quartzite (Ironstone) biface, 75×40mm, a Quartzite biface 'Chopping tool', 96×76mm, and a Quartzite biface, 94×74mm (see IN43)

A total of 7 lithics of 'Bunter' pebble quartzite and 15 flint waste flakes were discovered within levels 11 and 12. Their precise spatial location is unknown but it is clear from Armstrong's records that they were discovered within the cave passage. The artefacts of Middle Palaeolithic type were incompletely recorded by Armstrong and the stratigraphic distribution shown in Figure 7 indicates their maximum area of distribution. The artefacts include a biface made from an iron quartzite pebble, a unifacial side scraper or 'chopper' and simply made choppers fabricated by six flake removals from a larger quartzite pebble (Figure 9). Both raw materials are available locally where remnant pockets of 'Bunter' sandstone formations remain. Fifteen pieces of fabrication waste of both flint and quartzite were also discovered within these stratigraphic levels. Armstrong also reports a bone artefact from stratigraphic level 12, which is housed in the Manchester Museum. Examination of the object suggests that the hole is more likely to be the result of carnivore tooth penetration and it is therefore excluded from this account.

Vertebrate bone bearing cut marks were discovered within both stratigraphic levels 11 and 12 and these include the tibias of Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and Woolly Rhinoceros (Coleondonta antiquitatus), which both have localised cut marks on their medial shaft (Jenkinson 1984; see Digital archive V153, V154). Interestingly, the known Middle Palaeolithic artefact assemblage appears not to contain the fine cutting edges that would have been necessary to execute such fine and closely spaced incisions. Both stratigraphic levels also contained two mandible fragments of Woolly Rhinoceros, with indications of human use and an absence of carnivore activity. Despite the very small sample, their presence within levels 11 and 12 indicate Middle Palaeolithic presence, possible fabrication of both quartzite and flint and utilisation of lithics on site in the butchering or preparation of vertebrate carcasses. The specific presence of cut marks in similar locations of selected skeletal parts for two separate species suggest a particular task, which might have involved the preparation of animal pelts (Jenkinson 1984). The relatively crude nature of the excavated record prohibits clear stratigraphic separation of human and Hyaena activity but the absence of gnawing and the mode of bone attrition on three of the pieces suggest that the two activities are separated in time.

4.6 Later Middle Palaeolithic 1

Artefacts of Middle Palaeolithic type were excavated from stratigraphic levels 6 to 9, between 2.4 to 2.7m below the flowstone datum. These are clearly separated by sediments that contained no archaeological objects. In Jenkinson (1984) the Middle Palaeolithic was described as Mousterian I and II, now referred to as an Early and Later Middle Palaeolithic. The suggestion by Armstrong of a third assemblage is likely to be the result of a misunderstanding of an isolated distribution of artefacts. Previous studies (Campbell 1977, 147) have suggested that parts of the assemblage are 'typologically' mixed within the later assemblage. Armstrong's stratigraphic recording, marked upon the relevant pieces, is clear and indicates that these pieces were found at a depth and well within the replotted distribution, the 'mixing' argument is the result of misunderstandings in the chronology of variation in artefact typology. There is also no other evidence of disturbance in deposits in this area of the cave.

The later assemblage is both more numerous and diverse and includes use of both flint and quartzite as a raw material. Quartzite raw material, in pebble form, is prolific locally but flint is less common and this may indicate collection of suitable raw material from the Lincolnshire Wolds outcrops, although it remains possible that flint erratics may have been more frequent locally during the Quaternary.

The lithic assemblage includes two finely retouched scrapers in flint, both of which are similar in style to the more well known 'Quina' scrapers known from European Middle Palaeolithic locations (Figure 10).

Figure 10a Figure 10b Figure 10c
Figure 10: Side scrapers, Actual size 54×40mm (left) and 59×47mm (right) and a retouched blade or end scraper, actual size 89×25mm. (see Digital archive IN43)

Other artefacts which can be replotted include 17 pieces of fabrication waste of which 6 are incomplete flakes, 5 blade fragments and 6 flake fragments. A further incomplete flake of red chert is recorded from stratigraphic level 7. An invasively retouched elongate flake of flint (Figure 10c) was discovered within stratigraphic level 7, well within the Later Middle Palaeolithic assemblage. It has been suggested by several authors (e.g. Campbell 1977) that this is of Early Upper Palaeolithic type and age, a suggestion that is not supported by its very clear stratigraphic position.

Quartzite artefacts include two bifaces from stratigraphic levels 7 and 8, both of which have evidence of edge damage. Scrapers are relatively common and comprise nearly half of the total quartzite assemblage. These are bifacial; one was discovered in the same location to the invasively retouched blade illustrated in Figure 10 and the second was found near to a surface-damaged quartzite pebble, possibly a hammerstone.

There are 64 artefacts of quartzite and flint of Middle Palaeolithic type without a clear provenance. These lack Armstrong's full excavation coordinates or have a simple depth record, below the flowstone datum so cannot be accurately replotted. All of these have been included within the identified Middle Palaeolithic assemblage simply because there is no other indication of quartzite artefacts in the overlying levels of sediment. Fortunately 11 unretouched or incomplete flint artefacts have depth coordinates. 42 quartzite artefacts have insufficient coordinate details to be sure of their location; these include 6 bifaces, 2 bifacial scrapers, 2 unifacial side scrapers, 29 unretouched pieces and 2 cores. There are a further 6 flakes that may have originally been associated with the assemblage.

The total Middle Palaeolithic assemblage is clustered in two separate assemblages both of which occur in the cave passage where they are distributed along a gradient that slopes towards the cave entrance. It has already been noted that this is a very narrow and presumable dark area of the cave but the sediment surfaces were also at their highest in this region.

Fabrication of the assemblage is distinct in that rather simple flaked bifaces are associated with more complex flint forms and where the variety of materials found indicate that they have made within or near the cave. Although the assemblage is 'rich' in Creswell terms, lithic numbers are small in comparison to other European sites. It has been suggested (Mellars 1974) that the typological style is of the well-known Mousterian or Acheulean character and implicit in this suggestion is a western European origin for the technology. The argument has no real foundation in that Levalloisian technology and style is known from large contemporary areas of Europe. The form of this assemblage, which includes sophisticated flint work associated with simply flaked quartzite artefacts, is more likely indicative of attempts to use the more commonly available raw materials, and in any case is more indicative of functionality than cultural contact. It is difficult to imagine Neanderthal groups fabricating and carrying a tool kit weighing several kilograms of readily available material when the evidence suggests the pragmatic and spontaneous use of local materials, some of which show no signs of use but have nevertheless been discarded or lost within the cave. In pragmatic terms, the assemblage is composed of low numbers of scrapers of different types and larger cutting edges or scrapers of quartzite in roughly equal proportion. They do not include examples of projectiles, formal cutting edges normally associated with hunting practice, or awls, denticulates or burins, which may normally indicate secondary processing activity. Also absent is any indication of the utilisation of wood as a raw material, despite excellent conditions of preservation. Wood is likely to have been present in the more sheltered condition of the limestone gorges and which is suggested by the presence of specific woodland and aquatic vertebrate species known from these levels. The available evidence may therefore simply represent the heavier more durable or utilised element of tool kits. This seems to indicate that tool production is specific and not related to local or regional procurement activity but is more indicative of specific on-site processing of resources. This study describes contemporary vertebrate bone from these stratigraphic levels (see Mammoth and Woolly Rhinoceros descriptions in section 6) and in the absence of other evidence for functional activity, suggests Middle Palaeolithic groups may have been preparing and processing vertebrate skins or pelts (an activity that would go some way to explain the nature of the assemblage and why it differs from nearby sites and is particular to this cave). The location is also in stark contrast to other nearby sites, which are larger and appear to be more suitable for habitation.

4.7 Later Middle Palaeolithic 2

This artefact assemblage overlies that of the Later Middle Palaeolithic 1 and is separated from it by between 0.3-0.9m of sediment containing no artefacts. The assemblage was originally described as of Middle Palaeolithic type (Mousterian 3) by Armstrong (1926). This would equate with the depth of occurrence, which is 5ft (1.5m) below the datum and the reconstructed stratigraphic level 5 (Jenkinson 1984). Campbell refers to the assemblage as Early Upper Palaeolithic, primarily due to the typological form of some of the lithics and specifically the delicate invasive retouch which was then thought to be similar to the Solutrian assemblages known from France. Both lithic types have characteristic invasive surface retouch but are quite different in many other ways, which suggests that they are not part of the same facies. A well known 'Leaf Scraper' is illustrated in Figure 11.

Figure 11a Figure 11b
Figure 11a-b: A drawing and original photograph of an invasively retouched (laurel leaf) scraper which is 100×54mm. (see Digital archive IN45)

The assemblage is horizontally distributed in the passage area and between 10.2-24.7m from the cave entrance. Its vertical distribution varies between 0.77-1.85m. Figure 7 shows the stratigraphic occurrence and extent. Stratigraphic separation of this assemblage from the overlying one is clear cut for an extensive area of the cave, where an average of 30cm divides the two. The situation is less clear locally at several points. A Bronze Age burial, 11.4m from the cave entrance has penetrated both this and Middle Palaeolithic levels. Disturbance is also present at 18.5-20.4m from the entrance, where human bones have been found and which may be part of a post-glacial burial. Artefacts with sufficient stratigraphic information (c.72) and their distribution is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 12a Figure 12b
Figure 12a-b: Middle Palaeolithic (previously described as Early Upper Palaeolithic) invasively retouched scraper or 'point', 109×39mm, and a large stemmed point, 137×37mm

The context of this small group of lithics is of considerable interest and there has been much comment on their relevance. Campbell (1969) has suggested the existence of an Early Upper Palaeolithic within the UK where invasively retouch lithic are characteristic. Several invasively surface-retouched lithics are known from the cave, particularly from its rear, in the region of 66ft (20m) from the entrance and at various depths. The largest number occur within the 'hearth' feature. Given their importance the context is discussed in detail. They were discovered during 1927 and it seems that both Leslie Armstrong and Dorothy Garrod were familiar with the discovery at that time. Other lithics that derive from the same area 30-35ft north of the entrance are within the 'hearth' area. The groups consisted of:

All of the lithics were on or above the 5ft depth (1.68) upper slab layer commented on by both Armstrong and Dorothy Garrod. Garrod (1927) comments that this layer was continuous across the cave floor, with the exception of some areas adjacent to the east wall. The purpose of this detail is to suggest that the apparent mixing cited in many reports is very difficult to explain under these circumstances. Even allowing for movement, the lithic was resting on a solid rock floor that coincidentally happened to be the base of the later disturbance associated with the hearth.

A total of 72 artefacts have sufficient stratigraphic information to replot their distribution, which is shown in Figure 7. Descriptive details of the total assemblage are shown in the archive, which shows that the major concentration is within stratigraphic level 5. Artefacts recorded from the assemblage include a complete invasively retouched 'point' (Figure 9) from stratigraphic level 3 and a broken example from level 4. Stratigaphic level 4 also produced an exceptionally large and finely worked stemmed point (Figure 12a), which was found toward the cave entrance, and an obliquely truncated blade with retouch around the truncation (Figure 12b). Stratigraphic level 5 has produced two points with extensive retouch.

A total of four burins are known, three of which have no retouch but the fourth has been backed along one edge. End scrapers on blades and flakes (Figure 13) are recorded from stratigraphic levels 3-5. The total does not include the 'laurel leaf points' already mentioned and which may in fact be side scrapers. Other artefacts include a large backed blade, a retouched blade and 6 retouched flakes.

Figure 13a Figure 13b Figure 13c
Figure 13a-c: Nosed point or awl, actual size 68×24mm; small end scraper, actual size 57×35mm and broken 'laurel leaf', actual size 34×47mm

The stratigraphic distribution of this assemblage is of considerable interest. In his study of the UK Upper Palaeolithic, John Campbell (1977) grouped 72 of the artefacts into an Early Upper Palaeolithic assemblage. The inclusion of some bone artefacts and flint within this assemblage is the result of a misunderstanding of Armstrong's records and these can be shown to be of later age. Jacobi (1980) has suggested that the Early Upper Palaeolithic can be divided into at least two chronologically different parts. He suggested that an earlier phase is characterised by invasively retouched pieces (leaf points) and a second later phase, which includes Upper Perigordian tool types (the stemmed point in Figure 12). In his study, he correlated these phases with those known from French Palaeolithic sites (Jacobi 1980, 83) and suggested interstadial periods. The argument rests heavily upon consideration of variation in artefact typology and is not supported by the stratigraphic evidence for distribution from this cave. Armstrong's recording methods are not sufficiently refined to demonstrate the possibility of different phases of the Middle Palaeolithic assemblage (or Early Upper Palaeolithic) assemblages, a situation that does not discount the suggestion but the existence of a hiatus between the rear cave and front cave distributions cannot be proved.

In addition to the lithic remains, Armstrong records a concentration of quartzite and Mammoth bone. In the area 29ft (9.7m) from the entrance at a depth of 5ft (1.5m), a green quartzite biface and one worked quartzite pebble were discovered with a Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) tusk section, worked at both ends, and a worked but fractured piece of tusk. All of the pieces were found under the eastern wall overhang and thought by Armstrong to be associated. This is the only evidence from the cave of Middle Palaeolithic bone working of Mammoth bone (see Digital archive, items 9, 10 and 11). This is the same stratigraphic level 5 that has produced invasively retouched flint laurel leaf points. Unfortunately the worked Mammoth tusk has not been located during this study. The discovery is unusual and rare evidence of Middle Palaeolithic use of ivory (see below).

Within this general area (32ft from the cave entrance) and within the area of the Middle Palaeolithic assemblage 5ft depth (1.5m), a worked quartzite was discovered associated with a juvenile Mammoth molar and a small fragment of Hyaena mandible but neither bone has any indication of surface cutting or carnivore damage. Later studies of this area within 33-48ft (9.9m-14.4m) from the cave entrance suggest that a prepared 'hearth' existed here, which may have been excavated within the latest Middle Palaeolithic and particularly as the fill within the depression contains vertebrates typical of the sort produced by Neanderthal predation, which is known from other areas of the cave at this depth.

The purpose of this study is to give an account of Armstrong's excavation and to reconstruct, as far as possible, the original location of this assemblage within the cave. It is clear that the excavation indicates:

The evidence from the cave unfortunately is controversial in the sense that it does not independently support the concept of two separate assemblages (a later Middle Palaeolithic assemblage overlain by an early Upper Palaeolithic assemblage) interleaved between a clear occurrence of Middle Palaeolithic occupation (levels 5?-6) and Upper Palaeolithic occupation (level 4 and above).

4.8 Later Upper Palaeolithic

A total of 152 artefacts are recorded from the Later Upper Palaeolithic of the cave. Armstrong recorded a two-dimensional location detail (distance into the cave from the entrance and depth) on the surface of some of these but large numbers of lithics have no stratigraphic details. The stratigraphic distribution of 137 artefacts has been used to replot distribution in Figure 7. In addition, Armstrong recorded 10 bone artefacts, 3 marine shells, amber, and 2 Jurassic fossils. An additional 30 flint artefacts have no stratigraphic details but are included in this account on the basis of their typology. A significant difficulty in any consideration of the Later Upper Palaeolithic 'assemblage' is the presence of microlithics of a typological form that would normally be considered to be of later Mesolithic age, and many of these have no accompanying stratigraphic details that would allow comment on their actual age and their relationship with the Palaeolithic evidence. This is a shame in a site that is otherwise so data rich, and particularly as archaeological evidence from Mother Grundy's Parlour (Armstrong 1924a) and Thorpe Common Rock Shelter (Jenkinson 1979), both local to the cave, suggest that there is evidence of an archaeological boundary between the two 'types' of assemblages. This is of considerable interest in that it is associated with major environmental change, and the change in character may be of a functional nature rather than a chronological development (see Figure 14). The collection is summarised in the digital archive and the distribution is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 14a Figure 14b Figure 14c
Figure 14a-c: LUP backed and retouched points. Angle-backed blade (left), actual size 70×27mm; backed blade, actual size 68×17mm; point or awl, actual size 70×19mm

Consideration of the assemblage is undertaken in reference to the contents of individual stratigraphic levels and lithics that can be located specifically from Armstrong's coordinates. The approach has been applied to 5 levels (levels 4-0) described below.

Stratigraphic level 4 (i.e. 4ft/1.2m below the stalagmite datum)

Stratigraphic level 4 contains 4 flint waste flakes and a possible bone artefact in the form of a sub-triangular bone flake where both sides have a highly polished surface.

Figure 15a Figure 15b Figure 15c Figure 15d
Figure 15a-d: Later Upper Palaeolithic artefacts. Point (left), actual size 47×19mm; end scraper, actual size 43×26mm; end scrapers, actual size 47×20mm; penknife point, actual size 34×15mm.

Stratigraphic level 3 (i.e. 3ft/0.9m below the stalagmite datum)

Stratigraphic level 3 contains the largest and most diverse evidence for the assemblage within this cave. This level contains 16 lithics with sufficient information to be replotted. These include a plano-convex point, which is retouched along the oblique truncation and the opposing distal edge, a retouched scraper, a backed blade fragment and a truncated and retouched blade (see Figure 15).

Bone/Ivory artefacts and engravings

Three artefacts are known from this level which include:

Stratigraphic level 2 (i.e. 2ft/0.6m below the stalagmite datum)

Artefact evidence from stratigraphic level 2 is extensive and 44 flints have sufficient stratigraphic detail to be replotted. Both retouched and unretouched blades are an important element of the assemblage and represent 44% of the total. Other tools include an extensively retouched point, three scrapers, two burins and a borer or piercing tool.

Bone artefacts

Stratigraphic level 1 (30cm below the stalagmite datum)

Artefacts are at their most numerous within this level and a total of 56 have sufficient stratigraphic information to be plotted within the distribution illustrated in Figure 7. The lithics are dominated by retouches and unretouched blades, which comprise 39% of those known from the level. Other elements of the assemblage include backed blades and burins and a truncated 'Cheddar' point from the front of the cave at 8-10.2m. Also from this area there is a bifacial flint knife.

Bone artefacts

Stratigraphic level 0 (containing stalagmite datum and the immediately underlying deposits)

The uppermost stratigraphic level contains relatively few lithics (19) and over half of these are retouched and unretouched blades. Two fragments of retouched blades were also discovered.

4.9 Postmortem movement- a dimension of human and vertebrate curiosity

Many comments have been made concerning movement and the possibility of 'mixing' within archaeological assemblages. Similar comment has been made concerning vertebrate bone. This study has presented a case that minimises the effect of mixing and disturbance outside of clearly known and understood examples. It is also clear that the deposition of sediment and the incorporation of artefacts and vertebrate bone is not in circumstances that create horizontal 'slices' of evidence through time. There is multiple and clear evidence of activity by an enormous number of animals and human groups over a long time period and within a small space. Explanation of the taphonomic circumstance is often difficult or impossible in many cases. The purpose of this account is to describe some of these examples, which can occasionally be explained. In other examples, there is a possibility that movement is undertaken deliberately by human or animal agency and motivated by curiosity. Relevant examples are:

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