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Digging it Deeper. By John 'Tangent' Williams

Only for good reasons did dedicated and demented diggers travel along the imaginary roads and invisible foot-ways found and formed within the stonewalls of some speleoscape. Down there, those diggers' were like moving shadows. Delving and digging. Dragging and drilling. Banging and bailing. Clearing and creating. Wanting and waiting. Fantastic for a fabled breaking through. Sometimes scattered dots of noise, were the only notice to their possible presence. The occasional bag and blasted rock, the only sign of their presumed passing. Deep and distant diggers' lights seemed spaced star like amidst an enveloping sea of dark and empty cave. Soon the diggers' lights were swallowed by the blackness of their surroundings. Whatever existed beyond those beacons of starlight could only be imagined. This was the desperate darkness of a speleoscape, but on an incomprehensible scale.

There an original icy silence sings out once again. Just as it had always been in the time before diggers came to explore. Ephemeral explorations. That was all. Not registering really. Log-booked, and longed for. Vanishing suddenly like a sunset not wished for; but also nocturne no more. Firstly, digging with fury and sometimes like a jury a speleoscape of Mendip might tell a story. Secondly, and most sensationally of all some speleoscape could be found beneath a drinking hall. Unlike a lunar surface, this speleoscape seems to be a site that on first acquaintance is sternly met. Becoming beyond life.

Soon this impression is shown to be incorrect when a much closer look is made. Out there alive, perched on the plateau is a shallow soil swathed with short green turf. Only then do the closed depressions, barely basins, suggest something more subterranean. Landforms like these have been variously forced into existence by the interplay of crushing arctic snow pack, softly slumping soils, fierce frigid winds, wandering waters, and ultimately united by the unrelenting flow of time. Like landforms but liquid. Like liquid but life forms. Long lasting but lifeless. Lifelike but Limestone.

Defiantly did diggers dig. Desperately do diggers discover and discern. Sometimes subtle, but hardly hidden, are the swallets and slockers that signify a Mendip speleoscape. Only occasional subsidence, or other impressions are indicative of a possible presence here. On Mendip most things require some study to be understood at all. This is very true of the rock mass. Especially when attempting to follow neophyte, non existent, and curious cave systems beneath the old mountains of Mendip. Searching for speleoscape both above and below ground can sometimes be an enterprise of extraordinary exhilaration and enlightenment. Subsurface, certainly it can occasionally be harsh and unforgiving. Demanding the utmost respect and reverence.

On Mendip, such speleoscape searching has far more meaning than that which can be described through academic actions like geology, geography, and archaeology alone. So for these diggers beginning to believe. For those who practise exhausting, and often exasperating excavations. These occasionally lead too exciting explorations. Finding fresh appreciations of particular places, persons, and periods of time, that may be mapped. Or indeed, some speleoscape surveyed. Time then, trips on. Hardrock and human hands become patterns. It is mostly from much movement, and some mapping of the caverns, that diggers make things happen. Equally, and lyrically too. Epic tales; and musicality back in the Tavern reaffirm these indivisible interventions with those ingenious spaces of speleoscape.