13,000 year old Mammoth engraving found in Cheddar caves

For those of us into prehistoric art, the University of Bristol is running a press release announcing a possible Palaeolithic engraving discovered at Cheddar Caves and Gorge by members of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society (UBSS).

Mammoth engraving found in Cheddar CavesThe engraving, appears to be an outline drawing of a mammoth. The image on your right, is all I have to show off of it, and it really doesn’t look like anything other than the side of a cave to me. It is estimated to be about 13,000 years old.

Even more fascinating is the claim that the engraving technique of this drawing at the Cheddar caves mimics famous French and Spanish decorated caves.

From the press release,

The team, led by Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson, has carried out investigations in a number of the Cheddar Gorge caves. The latest find is of a possibly late Upper Palaeolithic engraving in a small alcove in the main showcave, Gough’s Cave.

Graham Mullan said: “Unlike our previous finds of abstract designs in the caves in this area, this is a clear representation of an animal. We are more confident that at least part of it was humanly made and the subject material places it firmly in the latter part of the last Ice Age. Finds of mammoth ivory of that age have been made in this cave in the past indicating that these animals would have been known to the inhabitants.

“Although the cave has been studied by many archaeologists, this engraving has previously escaped notice because it is quite difficult to make out. For this reason, a careful study has been made and this announcement was delayed until we were reasonably confident of the attribution.”

Bob Smart of Cheddar Caves and Gorge said: “We welcome yet another indication of how important the Cheddar Caves were to our ancestors 13,000 years ago, and hope this will broaden the general understanding of early British life. We were intrigued when Graham and Linda first suggested this project, and are delighted that they have brought it to a successful conclusion both in Gough’s Cave and in Long Hole. We congratulate them on the persistence and perceptivity with which they have brought to light evidence which had been overlooked for a century.”

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