Cheddar Gorge – part 2

   Last time, we looked at the fascinating discovery of Cheddar man at Cheddar Gorge. Though Cheddar man is easily one of the most important finds, there was a lot more found in the Caves. In Gough’s cave, where Cheddar man was found, there was the largest assemblage of Late Upper Palaeolithic flint artefacts ever found in any cave in Britain. These flint artefacts consisted of arrowheads, spear points, and a number of axes and hand-knives.

One of the many pools in the caves at Cheddar

   There were also a number of bones found in the caves. These were often found in nooks and pockets in the cave walls, and it is possible that the bones were left there as some kind of offering to the ‘gods’. The caves would have been a good place to live as well – dry, a constant temperature, and there would have been a constant supply of food just beyond the front door. The bones found vary from being carved human bones to all manner of animal bones, including mammoth and cave bear (an interesting neighbour, the Cave bear!)

Cave bear skeleton (not from Cheddar)

   Some of these bones – animal and human alike – have been disarticulated, marked with zig-zag incisions, and then broken open, possibly so that the nutritious marrow inside could be eaten. Some of the bones are highly unusual. One rib was found that had been snapped off the rib-cage, then cut with notches running down the sides. This was possibly used as some kind of counting device, or maybe an early form of a calendar.

   But possibly the strangest bone was a human skull case. It was properly investigated in 2011, and it was found to have been fashioned meticulously to hold some kind of liquid. Yes, this human skull was being used as a drinking vessel.

   But again, why? Nobody knows for sure. Was it only for ritual purposes, or was it more sinister – human sacrifice?

   Until next time, stay Curious!