Annual General Meeting and Dinner

The Annual General Meting will be held in our room in Old Market Street, Bristol on January 31st. 1952. It will be followed by the Annual Dinner; this will be held at the Whiteladies Restaurant, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, and the tickets are 7/6 each. You are advised to apply as soon as possible for Dinner tickets as there is always a rush for them.

The Postal Ballot Form which you will receive with this BB must arrive by post not later than 30th. Jan. BUT forms may be handed in up to the start of the A.G.M.

The Committee will be pleased to receive any further resolutions to be included in the Agenda for the A.G.M.

Club Library

The Club Library his had the following additions since the last BB: -

National Speleological Society Bulletin No. 13.

W.C.C. Journals for 8ept & Oct.

Caves of the Sauerland

By Jack Waddon.

Although caves are to be found in several parts of , the most important area is the extensive limestone uplands of the Sauerland, in South Germany, which contains also some of the most picturesque scenery in the country.

Since the limestones which I had seen elsewhere in Westphalia had been in a ‘Muschelkalk’ (a Triassic limestone not found in ) I expected to find the same situation in the Sauerland. However, it became apparent that here the rock was much older, and as far as I could see from fossils which I found in the area, the limestone was laid during the Devonian or Early Carboniferous era. I subsequently found my conclusions verified by a local guide, which stated that the local rock was ‘Devonian Kelkstein’.

The caves of the Sauerland do not differ greatly from those of South-West . The air temperature inside the caves is constant at 12 deg. C. The average rate of stalactite growth is about 7mm in 10 years.

The Dechenhohle

Situated amongst steep, pine-clad hills, 6½ km. west of Iserlohn, near the village of Letnatha, is the Dechenhohle, probably the best known cave in .

The cave was discovered in 1863, during the construction of the railway which runs outside the cave. Since then it has been highly commercialised. There are 15 medium sized chambers to the cave, which is about 400 metres long. The cave contains a large amount of stalactite formations, much of which is stained by various other minerals. Some of the stalagmite pillars which adorn the cave are over 3 metres high and 30 cm. thick. Straws are to be found in some parts of the cave, but most appear to have been broken off. I found some small amounts of aragonite in various parts of the cave, but not in large quantities. There are one or two examples of stalagmites growing on the tops of others which have toppled over, thus producing qeerly shaped formations.

Remains of cave bear, cave hyena, early horse, and various kinds of deer were found in the cave, mainly in the ‘Konigshalle’ chamber of the cave.

The Dechenhohle is worth a visit, if one is prepared to overlook the excess of commercialisation.


This is a very interesting, semi-commercialised cave in the village of Sundwig, 6 km. due east of Iserlohn. Admission is granted on application at the ‘Gasthaus’ behind which the cave is conveniently situated.

Heinrichshohle is of about the same length as the Dechenhohle, but here the similarity end, for it contains many high rift chambers. Although there is a fair amount of formation in this cave, its main interest lies in the large number of animal remains which have been found there, of which the most prolific are cave bear. One cave bear thigh-bone can be seen in situ, projecting form the cave wall in one place, and an almost complete cave bear skeleton, together with the remains of other animals, is preserved in a large show-case outside the cave. Mammoth teeth and tusks are among another large display of bones, which is on show in one of the chambers.

An interesting feature of the cave is a copper wire which was stretched across one of the chambers beneath a large stalagmite. This wire has been there for 50 years, and a small stalactite is now suspended from it, while a one inch curtains runs along its length: a useful measure of rate of deposition.


A couple of hundred meters north of Heinrichshohle, up a steep hill, is Felsenmeer (literally ‘rock-sea’). It consists of a series of large shake-holes, forming a depression about ½ km. long, edged by sheer cliffs. In the depression are large, jammed limestone masses, full of deep cracks and fissures. The average depth of the depression is about 25 metres, but many of the rifts are considerably deeper than this, and a 100ft. climbing line is useful when descending these.

Many specimens of ‘ramshorn coral’ are to be seen protruding the boulders, due to the action of weathering, and I found various other fossils, mainly of brachiopods, in the area.

Jack Wadden

Dating of Archaeological Specimens

By Scientist

To the best of my knowledge, almost all the estimates of the age of archaeological specimens are made from the associated pieces of tools, household utensils, and other bric-a-brac which are found with human and other bone remains. However, there are available at least two other methods for the determination of the age of specimens; one, a chemical method, will give the relative age of bone remains found in the same deposit. The other method, a physical one, will give the absolute age of any organic (animal or vegetable) remains, up to about 20,000 years, a limit which will probably be extended as the techniques improve.

The chemical method is based on the fact that bones and teeth contain a compound known as hydroxyapatite, which will react with fluorine to produce fluera patite. Since fluorine is present in all soil water, although only as a few parts per million, and the reaction can continue until the fluorine content of the bone gets down to about 3 per cent, it will appreciated that the fluorine content of bones taken from a series of layers in an archaeological site can be used to determine the relative age of the layers; the greater the fluorine content, the greater the age of the specimen. (British Dental Journal. June 2nd 1950. pp 292-299 and references)

The physical method depends on the determination of the C14 content of the specimen.

Carbon 14 (usually written C14) is a form of carbon which is radioactive; it is formed in the earth’s atmosphere by the sun’s radiation and disappears by its own spontaneous radioactive decay. It will be seen that, provided the sun’s radiation has remained the same rate for a period rather longer than 20,000 years in which we are interested, then the C14 in the atmosphere will be at a constant proportion throughout that time. The formation of C14 by the sun will balance that lost by radioactive decay and a steady state will be reached.

All animals and plants carry out a continuous exchange of body carbon with the carbon in the atmosphere so that; the percentage of C14 in their bodies remains the same as that in the atmosphere, until the moments when the organism dies, when the C14 content of the body starts to decrease.

Carbon 14 decays radioactively at such a rate that half of it will have disappeared in 5589 plus or minus 75 years. This is known as its half life and is completely independent of all normal and physical conditions. Thus is will be seen that an accurate determination of the C14 content of nay organic specimen will give its absolute age in years. For example, if the C14 content of a specimen is exactly ¼ of the content of the earth’s atmosphere, then its age will be 11,178, plus or minus 300 years. The error is quadrupled because two half life periods are involved, and because the same errors will occur in the measurement of the radioactive activity of the specimen as occurred in the original experiments for the measurement of the half life of C14.

Trip to Upper Ease Gill

A party of club members joined the meet organised by the Craven Pothole Club in the last week of July at Bullpot Farm, above Kirby Lonsdale, to explore the newly opened Upper Ease Gill system.

Don and Clare Coase and Pongo Wallis arrived on the Saturday night, after struggling up the atrocious track and pitched camp. It was very gratifying to hear that B.S.A. had abandoned Lancaster Hole and that as C.P.C. had laddered it, it would be possible to explore it. Sunday morning accordingly saw a party of 12 depart down Lancaster, to appear 5 hours alter at Rosy Sink – the entrance to the Ease Gill Caverns, a matter of a mile or so as the crow flies. This must be the finest underground traverse in the country, including as it does, a series of vast chambers. (Don got a blister from walking too far). The formations are not numerous, but there are a number of quite fine collections.

The next trip was on Tuesday, by which time the B.E.C. party was complete – Sett, Mike Jones, Mervyn Hannam and Norman Petty. A fine trip was enjoyed and a number of photographs taken. The day was spent in exploring Ease Gill. This is very different from Lancaster, being wet in a number of places, and a certain amount of crawling being required. The whole party went in as far as Gypsum Cavern, where there are some very fine formations. Most people then returned to daylight, but Don and Pongo continued upstream for a very easy ¼ mile or so and got to Master Grotto - the showpiece of the system, where the formations are the finest in the country - alas – they hadn’t taken their cameras.

The last trip took place on Thursday, when parts of Lancaster Hole were visited. The main object of the exercise was to get to the Graveyard, but unfortunately we were mis-directed and found Sand Cavern instead - a poor substitute.

The party began to break up on Friday, but all felt that a most enjoyable time has been had and were most grateful to the C.P.C. for organising it.

Many of the older members will no doubt be interested to hear that Pongo and the Coases then went to Appelby where our old friends from the days of the barn, Esme and Freida were met (we camped in the formers barn like old times, but in distinction to them, has an Aga to cook on). Both appeared to be in fine fettle, Esme still knocking back her pint in no uncertain manner.



As this is the Xmas number, all those readers who have waded through this issue so far, will find that it is larger than usual. For this larger BB thanks must go to all those members who so valiantly did their bit and send in articles for publication. If more members would do likewise the BB would always be as large as this.


A Letter of Lamentation

by U.O.

Oh, I joined a caving club to get my weight down, Mrs. Peacock,
And I can’t think why the thought occurred to me:
But I’d tried the firmest diet,
Even Ballet (Keep it quiet)
Yet I’d tyres upon my torso – only more so, Mrs. P.

It was at a social evening that I met her, Mrs. Peacock,
Her figure was a slim as slim could be,
She mentioned then a word
I confess I’d never heard
For she said she was a caver, (but she’s braver far than me).

She took me to a place they call the Belfry, Mrs.Peacock,
Where I stayed all night for quite a moderate fee;
The place is not bad looking,
But there’s such a smell of cooking!
And the people that I meet there aren’t elite there; Mrs. P.

There is a hole on Mendip called Eastwater, Mrs. Peacock,
Where all the swallets run down to meet the sea,
And a shocking cold I caught
When I found – just as I thought,
That when I sit I travel better, (But its wetter) Mrs. P.

Oh, they got me in a pot they call Dolphin, Mrs. Peacock,
And my hips jammed in tight as they could be;
I decided mid’st my raving
That I’d never more go caving
For I really can’t pretend, it was the end I could see.

I suppose you’d say I’m back now where I started, Mrs. Peacock,
Though I knew you wouldn’t mean it unkindly,
You really shouldn’t snigger
Now I’ve told you of the rigour
That I’ve gone through for my figure, for I’m BIGGER; Mrs. P.



The following article has appeared in a slightly different disguise before this, but for the benefit of the younger members, who have probably not seen it, and to whom it should be of interest, it is here reprinted. To the author – Pro Bono B.E.Co. (who is a hard worker for the B.B.) apologies are due if this is the first time that HIS rendering of the article is printed, but as my taking over the Editorship is comparatively recent and the ‘Master File’ of the BB is now quite a volume I am sure that my clanger that I have dropped will be understood. Anyway he knows my address and expect to see him lurking on my doorstep one night.


A Report on the Caves of Burrington 1829.

By Pro Bono BECo

John Rutter in his ‘Delineations of Somerset’ describes Burington Coombe as being remarkable for ‘two curious natural caverns’ but actually elaborates on three. The first, Aveline’s Hole, he calls an ancient catacomb, and says: -

This was discovered accidentally in the year 1795 and contained nearly 50 skeletons, surrounded by black mould, placed regularly close under the north side of the rock, and their feet extending towards the centre. The mouth of the cavern was evidently secreted by a mound of loose stones and earth, mixed with bones of sheep and deer. Within the entrance the cavern expands into a broad natural arch, below which, and inclined plane descends about one hundred yards; the floor afterwards extends horizontally for some distance, and in one place, some immense flat stones had been placed over a crack or fissure which traversed the floor.

At all events the state of the bones affords a presumption of high antiquity; some of which were encrusted with a coating of stalagmite, particularly a skull, the inside of which had been so covered with this substance as to form casts of the channels of the veins.

A note at the bottom of the page suggests that the ‘High antiquity’ dated from the fourth century A.D. and points out that the people probably fled from religious persecution, but in view of the recent finds that is obviously not correct.

But the most interesting part of this description continues: -

About half a mile distant, another of these curious places of sepulture was discovered; which was calculated to contain not less than one hundred skeletons; and higher up the Coombe, not far from Goatchurch, is an extensive and intricate cavern but ‘little known’. He then goes on to describe Goatchurch Cavern.

Although many people have searched for this ‘place of sepulture’ it has been completely lost. The phrase’ higher up the Coombe’ is misleading because it could mean that either the lost cave or Aveline’s was in the gorge below Goatchurch. I personally think that the cave was not in the Coombe at all as it is certainly much less than half a mile from Aveline’s to Goatchurch, also, Rutter states that there were ‘two caverns’ in the Coombe, these being Goatchurch and Aveline’s.

So if anybody feels like doing a bit of digging, or wants a skeleton to hang behind his bedroom door to frighten nasty burglars, there is a cave ready to be found somewhere in a mile diameter circle of Aveline’s Hole. How about it B.E.C.?

Editor’s Note

From time to time the ‘Bright Ideas Dept.’ turns up with different ideas to solve the mystery, one such put forward quite seriously, was to remove all the scree and loose rock from the Coombe; but don’t let failure deter you, who knows? YOU may be the lucky one.

Oh for a skylark. (with apologies to Shelley)

By Ray Brain

Hail to thee, black spirit!
Sane thou never wert,
That from Hell, or near it
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
(get yer ***** foot out of my earhole, you ******).

Lower still and lower
From the top, thou wrigglest
Like a slimy worm.
The black mud thou stirrest
And stirring, ever crawlest, and crawling ever stir.

In the golden lighting
Of Acetylene.
O’er which fumes are gathering
Thou dost rave and scream
Like a maniac, certified, (or one who should have been).

The all prevailing silence
At thy approach is rent,
By shouts of ‘Mind that Stalagmite’,
Or ‘That’s the way they went’.
‘Who tipped that – carbide out?
Cor blimey, what a scent’.

What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From primeval swamp there crawled not
Creatures half so wild,
As from Mendip’s cavern crawl, near to opening time.

Building a Belfry

By Tony Johnson

Part 3.

Ah! this is great. Your budding Belfry builder now has an area of Mendip akin to the Acropolis, except that the pillars are even more erratic, and are couched in a marsh instead, of on a hilltop. To add to this he has a large untidy pile of bits and pieces which are the Bigger and Better Belfry’s for the Boys Committee assure him are the total equivalent of one hut.

His next step is to whip up enthusiasm - promising lifts from the bus at Hillgrove and even more improbable things. As the B.E.C. as a race, are immune to such bribery and cajoling, he has to resort to the big whip. This – one Saturday afternoon - produces a most impressive lot of bods; they all arrive wearing costume, each bent on being the very model of a modern building foreman. Alas, it is not to be, for all are sent thither and hither; for all, it is, fetch that plank, find that roof, get a little stitch and you’ll land in the ditch.

Still, there is much to be done. In order to avoid getting them in through the door later, the floor sections are laid first. With persuasion, they are made to fit their piers or betters, some of, which have unavoidably to be ballasted with roofing felt in layers as a make-height. Discouraging numerous attempts to slope off, the gable ends are erected in all their glory, and various bods are told off to guard them and keep them upright whilst the rest of the gathered intelligentsia adjourn for char in the old Belfry out of the rain that is now falling.

After a respectable, time lapse (two cups, to be precise) the assault on the walls commences. Due to the rain the floor soon becomes a clay skating rink, and things slide along quite merely. But something is amiss! The door is now at the back and there is a five foot gap in the front wall. Visions of draught homes, but no, the missing section is found hiding and is pushed into position.

Here science rears its ugly head, with two wall and two ends, there is only one thing missing. Ah! You already know, the roof. A hunt around the site produced the startling discovery that a wigwam of wood has sprung up under which sundry foremen are sheltering from the rain. It seemed cruel to remove their shelter, so by common consent the meeting was adjourned to the delectable hostelry mentioned in Part 1 or Part 2 of this epic. This ended phase 3 of erecting the new Belfry. (I’ve forgotten what 1 & 2 were).

(to be continued)

(Part 4 of this epic will appear next month. Ed.)

The Decadence

On Nov. 1st last Tony Setterington and Alfie Collins celebrated their decadence – ten years of caving – albeit rather spasmodic. A feast such as has seldom seen before in the Belfry was laid with the invaluable help of Dora and Maisie. This feast, partaken with great relish, was assisted on its way with much Vino and a penalty bottle of sherry. The whole affair was a most pleasant and satisfying one, although it must be said that Ben Dors was rather mystified at the influx of merry men at opening time on a Saturday evening. My grateful thanks to the organisers, and let this serve as a reminder to those who have anything to celebrate in the future, from,

An Imbiber.

Are Rock Climbers Lazy or Hill Walking Makes A Change.

By John (Menace Morris)

Having been one of these somewhat peculiar creatures for some years now, I feel qualified in saying a very definite YES.

In our weekend trips to North Wales, admittedly, we wanted to get as much time on the rock as possible, but even then the time spent ‘in the pub’, as against time ‘on the rock’ was still very high.

This brings me to another point. Do rock climbers get the best out of mountains? My answer again is in the negative. A good part of one’s time on the rock is spent in working out the next horrible move, and being scared stiff. (and anyone who says he hasn’t been scared quite a bit on the rock is a liar, a fool, or both, and unfortunately we all know what happens to people who ignore these feelings).

I will ask any of ‘the boys’ to recall some of the really red latter days, and I think they will find that it was an easy climb, or ridge walk, that provided such a day, rather than a death or glory rock climb.

I remember a chap saying to me that any climb under severe standard was not worth doing. It were better for him that he was never introduced to climbing, for such a person is purely an exhibitionist and not a mountaineer.

It is all the little things that happen on a climb, funny and serious alike, that makes the day, not the climb itself. That is why guide books, with their mass of intricate detail and instruction are a bane as well as a help. The guide book really comes into its own after the climb, when it is a joy to recall some of these details, and agree or disagree with some of the things stated.

For personal reasons I now have given up rock climbing, but have not lost touch with the mountains; in fact, living in Breconshire, I have mountains on my doorstep, and next month I will describe to you some of the things they have to offer.

J.V. Morris


R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Gen. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Bristol. 4.
K. Dobbs, Hon. Assist. Gen. Sec. 55, Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4.
J.W. Ifold, Hon. Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
M. Hamam, Caving Sec. 14. Vyvyan Terrace, Bristo1.8.
A. Setterington, Hut Warden, 21, Priorswood Road, Taunton, Somt.
P. Ifold, Climbing Sec., 60, Ashley Down Road, Bristol. 7.
T.H. Stanbury, Hon, Editor, B.B. 74, Woodleigh Gdns, Whitchurch, Bristol.