Note that this is a re-print of the original publication, based on a scanned copy. During the process of converting the original paper copy to this electronic version, the original formatting, page layout and page numbers have been lost. All diagrams and surveys have been scanned from the original and are consequently of poor quality.
The Reopening of Eastwater Cavern – Preliminary Report by AJ Butcher
Notes on the North Wales Bibliography by BM Ellis
Hyatt's Hill Cave – Final Report by MT Mills
Published by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club
The Mineries, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset, BA5 3AU
Of the three major articles in this issue of the Journal, two relate to work on Mendip. This is, of course, very slim evidence from which to deduce that a swing back to Mendip work is occurring but it is sufficient to make us hopeful that this may be so. Unfortunately one of the articles describes work on a cave which, although very promising, will not be accessible again for a good many years. However, the club has a surface dig on its programme of activities and this should retain the interest of those who were active at Hyatt's Hill. Not everyone wants to undertake a lengthy caving trip before getting down to digging and surface work is certainly equally meritorious. A wider variety of activities should result in more members participating and a more plentiful supply of articles for the Journal. So the Editor is certainly in favour of diversification.
The article which does not concern Mendip could well be described as an appendix to the North Wales Bibliography (SMCC Occasional Paper no. 3). Owners of this Occasional Paper will find much to interest them here and Bryan Ellis has more material which we hope to publish in future issues.
The proposed method of shoring for the new entrance shaft to the cave is described and estimated costs are given.
With the collapse of the entrance to Eastwater Cavern on 10th August 1967, Mendip lost one of its major systems. A survey of the damage was carried out, as best it could, and it was decided that the old entrance was a write-off.
A meeting was held between representatives from all the major Mendip clubs where it was decided to re-open the cave by means of a new entrance shaft which would enter the cave at the safe end of the Boulder Chamber. The position on the surface at which the shaft was to be sunk was located by Denis Warburton, the surveyor or the cave, and with Phil Romford as the dig organiser work commenced.
Over the next two or three weekends, work continued until the side of the bank had been dug into and a cutting some six feet wide, seven feet long and eight feet deep had been formed (see Figure 1). Unfortunately this is as far as the work has progressed at present, work having stopped due to the outbreak of 'Foot and Mouth' Disease. This digging was, however, carried out without much thought as to how the permanent shaft would be formed. During the lull caused by 'Foot and Mouth' various methods were discussed and costs estimated. Finally the cheapest and easiest method was presented to a meeting on 19th May 1968, where it was accepted.
As the following is at present all theory it cannot be expected to be completely foolproof but it is hoped that no major snags will crop up. Each section is set under a separate heading for clarity.
Figure 1 – Location Diagram
Basically the main problem would seem to be that of the top ten feet of the shaft. One side is exposed and therefore the shaft will tend to topple because of an uneven thrust, i.e. the volume of earth on three sides against fresh air on the other (see figure 2).
Figure 2 – Diagram of Problems with Shaft
The intended method is a variation of a tried and tested way: concrete pipes. As to purchase these is very expensive, it is intended to use wedge-shaped concrete sections that will be cast on the site; eight of these will form a complete ring that is nine inches to one foot deep (See figure 3). These will be built up after the shaft has reached solid limestone, a distance of about 25 feet. It is intended to incorporate rubber pads to absorb the shocks from blasting carried out below this shaft.
The shaft will be reinforced with either steel cables tensioned as a form of pre-stressing, or with mild steel rods. When limestone is reached the reinforcement will be connected to it, so that any load is applied via the reinforcement to the rock.
One initial action that will have to be taken is the blowing down of the cliff face behind the old entrance. This will provide an effective seal to the old entrance and hardfilling for use in back-filling around the new shaft.
After the shaft has been erected, blasting through the limestone will commence. Phil Romford who is organising this part of the work intends, if possible, to drill shot-holes about one foot six inches deep, using 'Polarammon' as the explosive in the holes. If, however, a suitable drill is not available, the alternative will be to use 'Plaster Gel' and standard plastering techniques.
The cost of the shaft given below is the absolute maximum if the shaft goes as expected; no difficulties such as digging into boulders which would make it necessary to extend the shaft deeper, the depth reckoned on is twenty five feet.
Concrete, including formwork etc., mixed on site say £35
Reinforcement say £15
Total maximum cost of shaft, as outlined £50
Cost of explosives
using Polarammon and shot-hole technique say £25
Bringing down the cliff say £10
Total maximum for explosives £35
Using plastering techniques for shaft say £35
Bringing down the cliff say £10
Alternative method total for explosives £45
It is hoped that a drill will be available so that the greater expense of the second method is not incurred.
Figure 3 – Diagram Showing Proposed Shaft
In conclusion, the scheme set out above should provide the cheapest solution to the problem and it is hoped that all Mendip clubs will participate in the project, which in terms of cave digs is a 'cert'.
British Speleological Association Report by K Pearce
Not priced, not dated. 14 [un-numbered] pages
Having read the report of the 1967 Pegasus club expedition to the Gouffre Berger (see review in the last Journal) it is very difficult to review this report without making it a comparison.
As pointed out in that earlier review, this expedition took place at the same time as the Pegasus one, though it was originally intended that the two would be largely separate apart from tackle, communications and medical facilities. The BSA ran into 'morale trouble' (or as the report has it at one point, "moral trouble") when several members took "a sudden aversion to caving". Part of the cause of this can be found in the report. Not only had several of the members been involved in the Mossdale accident a short while before but after two days of travelling and a day carrying equipment to the camp, the next day was of 27 hours – most of them in the cave. As Pearce says, "it may have been more prudent to introduce the newcomers a little more gently to expedition life." Come what may, and ignoring here how it was achieved, Pearce did manage to get himself to the bottom and to dive the first two sumps.
This is a printed and, generally, well produced report consisting of a summary of events, expedition log, and reports on food, medical and photography, together with six photographs. There are also comments on the diving and on the laddering of the pitches below Camp II. This is said to be for the guidance of future expeditions who may "use the Pegasus report as a guide", but as the rest of the report is written in such a defensive style, I had my doubts whether this was truly the only reason. My criticisms of this report are that it could probably have been improved with editing, and certainly improved if there had been some proof-reading done. The very first word is incorrectly spelt as 'Foreward' and this is followed by very, very many more errors. A pity as this detracts from an otherwise good report.
Allowing myself a comparison in the last paragraph, this report I thought a definite second to the one by Pegasus, but then I thought that one was exceptional and this is still well above average. It is a pity that prices cannot be compared.
[Reviewer's Note: In accordance with past practice in this Journal, the review of the Pegasus report was unsigned; as it has given rise to comment, I admit responsibility for both that one and the above. BM Ellis]
A majority of the previously unchecked references given in SMCC Occasional Paper No. 3 have now been checked. Notes arising from this, and other notes on the published entries, are given.
A bibliography of nearly two hundred entries relating to North Wales caves was published almost two years ago as one of the club's Occasional Papers ('A Bibliography for the North Wales Caving Area', SMCC Occasional Paper No. 3). At the time of publication as many as possible of the references had been checked by the compiler but there still remained some 35 that it had not been possible to check. Since then a visit to various libraries and offices in North Wales, and considerable assistance from the staff of the Somerset County Library, have enabled a further 25 references to be checked. The fact that all but two (both Geological Survey Memoirs) of those checked entries now require an additional or altered entry does emphasise the need for a bibliography giving correct information. It has been possible to obtain further information on most of the ten remaining unchecked references at the same time. There are also additional notes to nine of the previously checked references. Surprisingly enough only two errors have come to light so far in the original bibliography; reference (91) should have included note (A), but see the amended entry below, and the name of the Cambrian Archaeological Association was given incorrectly.
As these additions, amendments and notes (published below) are intended for use with the Occasional Paper the abbreviations used are not repeated here – they will be found on page 5 of the Bibliography. While checking those references a further 150 references have been found. No claim of completeness was made for the Occasional Paper (luckily!) but it was not thought that the omission was so large. At present more than two thirds of these additional references have been checked and they will be published either in the club Journal or as a further Occasional Paper as circumstances permit.
(A) Notes on the references still unchecked
- (1) This manuscript is in the Bodlean Library, Oxford.
- (2) Publication data was probably 1781. There was a second edition of 1810, and a third edition of 1883 which has been checked.
- (5) The newspaper office is at Bangor but the files have not been checked.
- (7) This year's file was missing from the newspaper office when an attempt was made to check. Micro-film copies are available in Shrewsbury library and copies for December 1836, 1837 and 1838 were searched here. It has since been found that the date of its republication, reference (8), was 30th December 1837 so it must have appeared before that date. The full title of the newspaper is "The Shrewsbury Chronicle and Advertiser for Wales".
- (10) There were several journals published at this period which included the words "London Journal" in their title. It has not been possible to trace this reference although the "London Journal of Arts and Sciences" was searched for the years 1850 to 1860.
- (40) This year's file could not be found amongst the dust and chaos at the newspaper office.
- (75) This newspaper is no longer published. Liverpool City Library would appear to offer the best chance of finding a copy.
- (94) No copy of this work can be traced by the National Central Library; although Flintshire County Library lists it in their catalogue the copy cannot be found.
- (106) The two later editions have been checked.
- (149) It has not been possible to borrow a copy of this club journal although a typed copy of the article has been seen.
(B) Amended Entries and Notes on Checked References.
- Page 5 – Abbreviations used.
- Arch Camb – Archaeologia Cambrensis, the Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Association [not society].
The following additional note has been used in the amended entries given on the following pages.
(D) These articles and notes were originally published in a series under the title "Bye-gones Relating to Wales and the Border Counties" that appeared in the 'Oswestry Advertiser'. The series have been republished in two yearly volumes with the same title by Woodall, Minshall, Thomas and Co, of Oswestry. The references have been checked from the books only.
- (8) 1837, Dec 30 Anon – Singular Discovery. The Penny Mechanic and Chemist, Vol 2, No 62, p 474 (discovery of a cave at Blaen-y-nant lead mine, Meld). Reprint of (7); see (144). [only copy traced is in the British Museum.]
- (11) 1860 Anon – An Account of Human Bones found within the Limestone Mountain of the Great Ormes Head at Llandudno (Brown, Birmingham). (Description of bones found in cave on NW side of Great Orme) [This is an 11 page pamphlet, copy at Birmingham City Library.]
- (12) Add volume no. 6; omitted from original entry.
- (14) 1834 E Stanley – On the Discovery of Bones of a Rhinoceros and a Hyaena in one of the Cefn Caves, situated in the Vale of Cyffredan, Derbyshire [sic]. Proc Geol Soc, Vol 1, p 402 (summary of a paper describing Cefn Cave and Natural Arch). See also (6).
- (16) 1868 C Murchison [editor] – Palaeontological Memoirs and Notes of the late Hugh Falcohor, A.M., M.D. (Hardwick), Vol 2, p 210 (brief mention of elephant bones being found in Cefn Cave); Vol 2, p 544 – On the Fossil Remains found in Cefn Cave, near Bryn Elwy, N Wales (description and rough plan of cave, with list of fossils found).
- (21) See also: Geol Mag, New Series, Vol 8 p332 (1871).
- (22) Delete this entry; there are no references to the caves of North Wales.
- (65) 1887 E Kokan – Leonhard und Geinitz's Noues Jahrbuch fur Mineralogie, und Palaeontologie, Vol 2, p 487 (review of work at, and results from, Ffynnon Bouno and Cae Gwyn caves). Article based on (46), (50), (60), (61) and (86).
- (79) 1888 CE de Rance – Notes on the Vale of Clwyd Caves. Proc Yorkshire Geol and Polytechnic Soc, New Series, Vol 11, Pt. 1, p 1 (deals with Cefn, Ffynnon Bouno and Cae Gwyn caves)
- (80) Delete note (A), has now been checked.
- (81) 1892, Aug 24 T Ruddy – Discovery of a Cave at Minera. Oswestry Advertiser. (Good description of a cave at Minera Lime Works). See (117) and (160). (D)
- (91) 1906, Jan 3 Anon – Caves in the Ceiriog Valley. Oswestry Advertiser. (Good description of Ceiriog cave and its exploration). See (119). (D)
- (95) 1913, April JH Morris – Exploration of Newmaket (Gop) Caves. Northern Flintshire, Vol 1, No 2, p 33 (notes on the exploration of Gop cave). Reprint of (54) with additions and corrections. [This was a magazine]
- (96) 1913, July HV Goold – The Gwaenysgor Bone Cave. Northern Flintshire, Vol 1, No 3, p 71 (work in, and finds from, the cave, with survey). Plan and section appear to have been basis of (133).
- (98) 1915, Jul 10 J Fisher – The Discovery of the Cefn Caves. The Rhyl Journal, p 6 (an historical account; includes extract from Fenton’s MS (1908)).
- (101) Delete note (A), has now been checked.
- (105) 1933, March Anon [?JH Jackson] – Visit to Cefn and other Local Caves. Proc Dyserth and District Field Club [for 1932], p 50 (history of, and finds from, Cefn, Ffynnon Beuno, Cae Gwyn, Gop and Gwaenysgor caves).
- (114) Reprinted from: REM Wheeler – Prehistoric and Roman Wales (Oxford) 1925.
- (115) Delete this entry; the beaker was from a cist at Plas Heaton and not from the cave.
- (126) 1944 WT Palmer – Odd Corners in North Wales (Skeffington) pp 14 and 17 (very brief mentions of caves around Tremeirchion, and Cefn cave, respectively). See (129). There was an earlier edition of 1937.
- (130) Add: probably a reprint of (96).
- (148) 1958, Jan Anon – Proc Prehistoric Soc, Vol 23 [for 1957], p. 228 (brief mention of excavation in a newly discovered chamber of Gop cave).
- (150) 1958, Dec Anon – Proc Prehistoric Soc, Vol 24 [for 1958], p. 219 (very brief mention of an excavation of a rock shelter at Nant-y-Fuach, Dysarth).
- (154) 1959, Dec Anon – Proc Prehistoric Soc, Vol 25 [for 1959], p 280 (short note on continuation of the excavation at the Nant-y-Fuach rock shelter).
- (181) 1875 J Price – Llandudno and How to Enjoy It. A Handy Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood (Simpkin Marshall), pp. 79 and 80 (brief mentions of Cefn-yr-Ogof and Cefn caves).
- (182) Delete this reference; it is the same as reference (14), see above.
- (183) 1930 E Neaverson – The carboniferous rocks around Prestatyn, Dyserth and Newmarket. Proc Liv Geol Soc, Vol 15, p 131. (B)
- (184) 1937 E Neaverson – The carboniferous rocks between Llandudno and Colwyn Bay. Proc Liv Geol Soc, Vol 17, p 115. (B)
- (185) 1930, Jan W Lloyd and RCB Jones – The Upper Carboniferous of Flintshire. Geol Mag, Vol 67, p 45. (B)
- (186) 1880 WB Dawkins – Early Man in Britain and his Place in the Tertiary Period (Macmillan) pp. 100, 177, 192, 271, 310 and 313 (various brief, and mainly general references to Bont Newydd, Perthichwareu, Plas Heaton and Rhosdiggre caves).
- (187) 1942 E Neaverson – A Summary of the Records of Pleistocene and Post-Glacial Mammalia from North Wales and Merseyside. Proc Liv Geol Soc, Vol 18, p 70 (brief notes on all the archaeologically well known caves in the area and an analysis of their faunas).
- (189) Add: (includes a good bibliography).
- (190) Add: (deals with all the archaeologically important caves in a general manner).
In the last issue of the Journal was published a review of the report on the Pegasus expedition to the Gouffre Berger in 1967. This caused the leader of the British Speleological Association expedition to send his comments to the club secretary. As it was possible to infer criticisms of the BSA expedition from the review it is only fair to publish the reply here. The letter was obviously written in a great hurry. It is reprinted here as received, not as any slight on Dr. Pearce (the expedition leader) but because there was not sufficient time to edit and then re-submit it to him. It was thought better to publish it as received rather than to alter it in any way.
“Thank you for the copy of the journal containing the review of Pete Watkinson's expedition. Unlike Pete I do not own a printing works so had to go to a less expensive professional and the quality of the enclosed report (*) is not so good.
If you read the report you will perhaps appreciate at least one reason why names were not reported in Pegasus publication the next is more or less obvious. There was really very little friction down the cave both teams working well together just friction it seems fighting for the glory after the event.
I told the press no financial support = no news. They wanted me to take two men over and feed them at my expense for £50, I refused. They followed and still offered £50 … more trouble than it was worth so they went to Pegasus and used them as spies … a method used in '64 so I scotched their little game.
Further, whilst I bear them no malice for it Pete refused to help me with diving gear in the event of my expedition not reforming, and two Pegasus sat at top of Hurricane and watched me pull up a 50lb load single handed. My expedition laddered ½ the cave and carried more than half the wt x distance of tackle with ½ as many men. So although we didn't do the lions share as originally planned we certainly pulled our wt.
Incidentally the communications supplied by my expedition to Pete's as well as my own cost my exped over £150 and it was designed and built by my exped. I could go on.
The main thing is that as many people as possible, who were fit, competent and enthusiastic from both expeditions got to the first syphon.”
(*) A review of this report, of the BSA expedition, will be found in this Journal.
Following the preliminary report by Roger Haskett on the above cave in this Journal (see Volume 4, Number 3, pages 19 - 20) work in the cave had been continued by a number of club members, predominant among these being Roger Haskett himself, Phil Romford and Alan Butcher.
During July 1967 the boulders preventing access to the lower second section of the rift were eventually removed, and this enabled a further descent of some twelve feet or so. From the bottom of the rift a horizontal passage was then followed with the continued use of explosives, a cross rift being encountered after some six or eight feet. At this junction the floor level was lowered some three feet, and the cross rift was being followed downwards with the help of explosives when caving was suspended because of the nation-wide 'Foot and Mouth' outbreak in November / December 1967.
Late in February this year the landowner was again approached and it was found that meanwhile the land on which the cave is situated had changed hands, and that the new owner was thought not to favour continued activity in the cave.
On Sunday 19th May, Alan Butcher, Bryan Ellis and myself went to Hyatt's Hill with the intention of meeting the new owner and discovering direct from him whether he was unwilling to permit work in the cave to continue. Fearing that this might well prove to be the case we took with us the surveying equipment on the grounds that he could hardly refuse to permit us to carry out a survey, and remove the digging tools.
The new owner, Mr. LS Harland, was polite but very firm in that he was not prepared to allow continued work in the cave. His reason for this decision was only too plain to see – what had been, when the dig commenced, a derelict cottage had now been transformed into a modern dwelling house which was nearing completion and ready for occupation. As the cave went within literally feet on the foundations of the building, even if he had been prepared to allow work to continue, it is a debatable point whether it would have been wise to continue even with the smallest of explosive charges for fear of structural damage to the building and consequential claims.
We then proceeded to the cave, for a final visit, removing the digging tools before carrying out a survey for record purposes. The survey was carried out using a tripod mounted compass and clinometer (combined for use as a single instrument) and a 'Fibron' measuring tape. As the compass was not calibrated on site but several miles away, it is only possible to claim a Cave Research Group survey grading of 4; however the survey was otherwise made to a grading of 6 and the only error that might have been caused by this omission is that the direction of north shown on the plan may be up to one degree out from its true position.
The resulting survey is reproduced below, from which it will be noted that the length of the principal route is about fifty feet, but there are in addition numerous holes between boulders. The total depth achieved was thirty six feet from the floor level at the entrance of the cave.
Before leaving the cave, at the request of Mr. Harland we sealed over the top of the rift using a sheet of corrugated iron sheeting and some boulders. We also attempted to block the entrance in a similar manner to prevent unauthorised access.
Figure 4 – Hyatt’s Hill Cave NGR 6597 4734
[Editor’s Note: It is regretted that a slightly incorrect grid reference was given in the heading of the previous, preliminary report. That reference, taken with insufficient care from the one inch map was 150 yards in error; the correct reference is given in the survey above: ST/6597 4734]
Publications of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club
Published every other month. Available to members only.
Series One & Two (1954 – 1960).
- Republished in one volume with index; 70 pages. Contents include: Double Pots, Swildons; Dowber Gill Passage; Caving in Ireland; Water tracing, Swildons; Swildons Five; Pollnagollum, County Clare; Springhead Rising, Rodney Stoke; Priddy Green Sink; etc. Price: 5/-
Series Three (1961 – 1965).
- No. 1 Shatter Passage, Swildons; Springhead Rising, Rodney Stoke; Trouble Series, Swildons. Price: 2/-
- No. 2 Exploration of Swildons Six and Discovery of Seven; Trouble Series, Swildons; Carricknacoppan caves. Out of print.
- No. 3 Water Tracing with Rhodamine B; Some Caves in Ireland; Sump Three, Swildons. Price: 2/-
- No. 4 Bottlehead Slocker; Grapajama; the Charterhouse Caving Committee; Sump Two, Stoke Lane. Price: 2/-
- No. 5 The Avens in Swildons Four; Swildons Streamway Discoveries; Discoveries in Ogof Daren Cilau; Bacteriological Tests on Cave Waters. Price: 2/-
- No. 6 1963 Expedition to Gouffre Berger; Survey of Swildons Seven; Steep Holme Caves Price: 2/-
- No. 7 Stream End Caverns, Mossdale; Trafalgar Aven, St. Cuthberts; Cheddar Cliff Cave, Price: 2/-
- No. 8 Two Caves at Cannington, Bridgwater; The East Series, Holwell Cavern. Out of print.
- No. 9 Blue Pencil Aven, Swildons; Diving in the Predjama System; Price: 2/-
- No. 10 Great Flood at Eastwater, 1910; A Mounting for Cave Survey Instruments; Extension to Holwell East Series. Out of print.
Numbers 1 to 5 are also available in one volume, with index. 127 pages. Price: 5/-
Series Four (1966 – ).
- No. 1 Discovery in St Catherines II, Ireland; Some Caves in North Wales; Survey of Cefn Cave; Survey of Lost John's Cave Extension. Price: 2/-
- No. 2 Lundy 1966; Traverse Closure and Other Errors in Cave Surveying; Paignton Zoo Caves. Price: 2/-
- No. 3 Expedition Planning and Associated Problems; Hyatt's Hill Cave; A New Survey of Holwell Cavern. Price: 2/-
- No. 4 Lundy 1967; Pen Park Hole Bristol in 1669; 'Fibron' Tapes for Cave Surveying. Price: 2/6
- No. 5 Hyatt's Hill Cave; the Reopening of Eastwater Cavern; Notes on the North Wales Bibliography. Price: 2/-
Copies of all these Journals can be obtained from the editor who will also provide details of the club's Occasional Papers. Please note that prices do not include postage, so please add a suitable sum to cover cost.