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Annual General Meeting 1950.

The Annual General Meeting will be held early in January 1951, and the first step towards this is the nomination of members for the 1951 Committee.

The following list is of the existing committee, all of whom, subject to their willingness, are eligible for re-election, provided that they are nominated at this time.

D,H, Hasell, Chairman

T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. & Treas

R,A, Setterington, Hut Warden

G,T, Lucy, Hon. Tackle Officer

F,W, Young

A.M. Innes

Miss S, Bowden-Lyle

K, Dobbs

one member from London Section

R, Cantle, Leader, Climbing Section

Your are asked to send in nominations for 9 positions on the Committee, these to include one London Section member and one lady member. All such nominations MUST be in Hon. Sec.’s possession by 30th. November, 1950,

(note :- You will see that the existing committee has ten members. This is due to the fact that R. Cantle has been co-opted to represent the climbers.).

Annual Dinner

All persons who are attending the Annual Dinner MUST definitely send to Hon. Sec. before Monday October 16th. enclosing 7/6 per person attending. Failure to do this will mean exclusion from the function for those who omit to send, as this is the last day before the hotel is notified of final numbers.

Stoke Lane Swallet by M.M. Unwin

During a recent visit to Stoke Lane Swallet, I noticed a small blue-green patch on the limestone rock surface as approaching the locality known as “Boulder Ruckle”.

Upon further examination I was able to determine that this was due to a species belonging to the alga group, a simple organism known as Chroococcus Turgidus. This can be found abundantly in this country in moist places, and can be seen at the entrance to Wookey Hole.

But the main interest in this text is that the alga were living under extreme austerity conditions, with no light available to carry out photosynthesis, by which most alga obtain their energy, the alga still maintained their blue-green colour, which rather suggests that other forms of nutrition other than photosynthesis does occur. This led me to suspect that the alga obtained their nutrition from the organic matter in the water present.

To determine this I conveyed into the “Changing Room”, (the other side of Trap 1) suitable quantities of double distilled water in glass containers with an outer covering of synthetic plastic. Some of the alga was removed and placed within small glass test-tubes containing the distilled water. This was repeated three times respectively. I left two of the glass tubes behind containing alga, the remaining one I enclosed also in the synthetic plastic covering so as to keep the contents in the dark, also to avoid breakage on the return journey. After two days, I opened the latter tube to find that the alga had in fact almost lost its colour.

On the fourth day of the commencement of the experiment I returned to the cave to where I had left the other two tubes. I removed one and returned with same and placed it within the sunlight, where, within six hours the alga had regained its colour, as had done the first specimen.

It appears from the foregoing experiment that the alga in question can utilise light from photosynthesis as well as the organic matter carried by the water. Control tubes containing the river water were set up in the experiment, and further work on this subject is in progress.

MM Unwin

List of Members 1950 No.7

C. McKee,                                 70 Imperial Road, Nottingham,

Ken. Oxby,                                c/o 19, Baker Street, Nottingham.

Miss Maureen Pillinger,              36 , Gathorne Road, Southville, Bristol.3

Mrs Gwen Ifold,              Leigh House. Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol,

Mrs Marie Young,                      The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol.

Clive Seward,                             25, Beaconsfield Road, Knowle Bristol.4.

Miss Margaret Offer,                   c/o the Farmhouse, Great Wigsell, Hawkhurst, ,

Dave Young,                              42, Hogarth Road, London. S.W.5,

J.G. Turner,                               39, St. Marks Ave,, Salisbury, Wilts,

Miss Sheila Ainsworth,               3; Byfield Place, Combe Down, Bath Somt,,

Miss Tessie Storr,                      460 Alfreton Road, Nottingham,

Miss Eunice Overend,                49, Alexandra Road, Frome, Somt.,

Bob Crabtree,                            13, Winterley Ave,, Wallasey Cheshire,

Miss June Beer,                         1, Elm Tree Drive, Bishopsworth, Bristol.

Miss Jean Bevan,                       31, Gilda Cresc,, Knowle, Bristol.4.

Miss Beryl Wild,                        49, Speedwell Road, St, George, Bristol.5,

Letter about bones in Stoke Lane & Roman site near Belfry

The following letter and the reply are those promised you in the last BB :-

St.Faith’s Cott,,


Nr Axminster,



The Editor, Belfry Bulletin

Dear Sir,

What has happened to the archaeological finds, including I believe, parts of three skulls and other bonus, that were brought out of Stoke Lane Cave about two years ago? Have they been examined, identified labelled and preserved in the correct manner, and if so where are they now and what are the findings? I ‘would like to know and so would others.

If nobody in the Club is further interested in the remains, both inside and outside the cave I suggest that the Club offers them to an institution more interested in Archaeology than we

are and also offers to conduct any ardent archaeologists to the site within the cave which should be well worth “digging”.

A lot of these remarks also apply to the Roman site in the field behind the Belfry,

Yours etc.,

J.M. Tompsett,

Here is Ted Masons Reply :-

11, Kendon Drive,



2nd. Sept. 1950,

To The Editor, Belfry Bulletin,

With reference to Mr Tompsett‘s letter of the 17th. Instant, the surface bones at Stoke Lane Swallet were removed under my direction by the joint’ efforts of the BEC and the Mendip Research Group in September 1949, just under a year ago. The bones were handed to me on site and the Mendip Research Group subsequently handed over those which they themselves had recovered on another occasion.

As archaeological adviser to the BEC the control of these remains and excavation is a matter, of course, for me to advise upon.

1.       THE SITE, Excavation of the site is contrary to my advice until certain conditions are complied with:-

a)       Excavation rights,

b)       Access

Of these (b) is the most difficult since the site should be within easy reach of daylight, particularly where friable bones are concerned, apart from the extreme difficulty of transporting equipment via the sump. All earth would have to be finally sieved and examined in the open. Until a new and more direct entrance to the bone chamber is formed, this would be impracticable. In fact the surface bones were only recovered when it was learned that there was a possibility of damage by trampling. The difficulty of obtaining a second entrance is of a non-archaeological nature, and the difficulties are well known to the BEC, who have been pursuing this aspect. Any ruthless digging in the cave under present conditions is to be depreciated,

If these conditions could be complied with there is no reason why a proper excavation should not be carried out as originally arranged as a joint excavation by the BEC and the Mendip Research Group. However the inadvisability of attempting to excavate without a secondary entrance was also borne out by a written statement of Professor Tratman when he visited the site.

2.  THE BONES. The final identification would not normally be done until after the commencement of the excavation since the date of relics of this nature is almost wholly dependant upon information found during the course of the excavation. However, in view of the difficulties of opening the site, the bones will be submitted for anatomical examination, as soon as I am satisfied that their restoration and preservation is such that they are in a suitable condition to travel. Bone reconstruction and preservation is a long and tedious job. It will be appreciated that bones which have lain in wet conditions possibly for several hundred years do not dry easily and applied heat tends to warp. In fact, the care necessary to specimens after recovery from a site can be as tedious and exacting as the scientific excavation of a site. Any club engaged on archaeological work must be prepared to be patient.

However, the first batch of bones may be able to be despatched in the course of the next few weeks. It is hoped that Dr. Zouner of the Institute of Archaeology will furnish the anatomical report, although for Mr. Tomsett’s information a preliminary report of the bones was kindly made in situ by Prof. Tratman, a copy of which is in my possession.

With regard to labelling, preservation etc., this is being done in accordance with my normal methods although if Mr Tompsett has any suggestions to make, I shall of course be only too pleased to consider them.

Any offers to conduct ardent archaeologists to the site, should, of course, be referred to me since it is not the custom for archaeologists and excavators to undertake work on a site, in which another colleague is concerned, There is a kind of “professional etiquette” even among excavators. However, again, if there are any suggestions, I shall be only too pleased to give then unbiased consideration.

With regard to the final housing of the finds, this is a point which is normally considered prior to removal and it was agreed by the B EC that they would be deposited in the Museum at Shepton Mallet. There remains the question of the scientific publication in which the final report would appear. It is hoped that this will be the Proceedings o f the MNRC with a note in the Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological Society (space permitting) and of course - the Belfry Bulletin.

2.  THE BELFRY. As on all sites a certain amount of preliminary work has had to be carried out which may be enumerated as follows.

1.       Excavation rights

2.       Organisation of the excavation.

3.       Equipment

4.       Action

1.                   The owner has been approached, but requires to see the area staked out.

2.                   The general outline for an excavation committee has been suggested by me to the BEC. These should comprise the appointment within the Club of:-

a.       Correspondence Secretary.

b.       Excavation foreman.

c.       Photographer.

d.       Surveyor.

e.       Draughtsman.

f.         Technician (marking and joining of pottery etc.)

g.       Digging assistants

3.                   Equipment. Tools, A roll call has been made for tools and I understand that these have now been accumulated:-
Stakes A number of stakes were required. These have now obtained.
Plan. Ordnance sheet. This is now in the possession of the BEC.
Surveying Level. Some difficulty has been encountered in obtaining a level for .the site and remains unsolved.

4.                   Action. Air photographs have revealed certain features enabling us to narrow the field in which to begin work and these features have been marked by the BEC on the ordinance sheet. Although the absence of a level is disconcerting, there is no reason why a sondage should not be made this year, weather permitting, but the main onslaught will have to be left until the summer. Within the next few weeks, it is hoped that a trial trench will be cut. However we must assume that the help of members will be maintained, since excavation is a slow and painstaking process and helpers must appreciate that it is easy to destroy several hundred years evidence in as many seconds. Swallet digging is fast work compared with archaeological excavation. Also we must be assured of a good nucleus of helpers who arc not likely to waver after the trial dig if it justifies continuance on a larger scale. Otherwise in such circumstances the site is best left alone. Like most things one must take the good with the bad, although I think there is every prospect of it proving an interesting site.

The enquiry from Mr Tompsett is certainly welcome since it indicates some enthusiasm in the club concerning archaeological matters, and I look forward to having his help and others like him on the site.

Yours faithfully,

Edmund J. Mason


Leaders are still required for trips during December, January & Feb.. What about the London Section? Send in offer and suggestions as soon as possible.


T.H. Stanbury        Hon. Sec.                            74. Redcatch Road Bristol.4, 77590.
W.J. Shorthose      Hon, Sec. London Section     26. Gateside Road, upper Tooting, S.W.17, R. Cantle        Climbing Sec     46 Cherrington Rd, Henleaze, Bristol 9