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Notice

It was resolved at the last Committee meeting that in future if the Club or Club members taking part in a recording the undertaking must first be obtained that the following will be broadcast: - ‘Guides and tackle were provided by the Bristol Exploration Club’.  This is not done to obtain cheap advertisement.  In the past, members have worked hard to make broadcasts by amateurs underground, but on hearing the broadcast it appears that practically anyone can delve into Mendip’s underground with impunity and without help.

Belfry Notice

In an attempt to overcome a certain laziness that has been showing itself lately, it has been decided to start a double scale of charges at the Belfry; for those who visit it to use the establishment as His Lordship would i.e. a Hotel, the charge is 2/- per night.  For those who are prepared to help in keeping the Belfry and site clean etc. the charge is 1/-.  Further details from the Hut Warden.  REMINDER, THE HUT WARDEN’S WORD IS LAW.

Personal

To Gordon and Jean Fenn.  Another boy, apprx. Weight 8lbs.

Kay Liz. September 7th. One hour before closing time was born the aforementioned.  6lbs 4 ozs.  To our esteemed Hon. Sec. and the Dark Horse.  (To whit)  Coral.

1954 Committee

With this issue of the BB comes the nomination form for the 1954 Committee.  This form must be returned to K.C. Dobbs, Asst. Hon. Sec. at 65, Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4. by 1st December 1953.

Belfry News

After a long period of delay, the extension to the new Belfry is now a fact.  The structure was put up just before the Bank Holiday.  Many of the old stalwarts were on parade again as usual but there were a few – too few – welcome new faces to be seen.  Typical Belfry weather – drizzle – greeted the builders, but in the evening the sun came out and they were able to make the place waterproof.

The extension is used to enlarge the girl’s room and the kitchen.  Partitions are now in place and the girl’s room has been floored and lined.  Much remains to be done however; a concrete kitchen floor has to be made and all the fittings have to be built, so roll up, there is plenty for all to do.  Although only six feet have been added to the length of the hut, the general opinion is that the size has been vastly increased, so mind you don’t get lost looking for the door when you return from the Hunters.

Tony Johnson

Additions to Club Library.

C.R.G. publication No. 5; A key plan of Gaping Ghyll.

W.C.C. Journal No. 40 June.

R.S.S. Newsletters for April and May.

B.C.C.C. Newsletter No. 5 for May.

W.S.G. Bulletin No. 24for July.

Johnny I

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Pete Williams wishes to be remembered to all the mad-men and women he knows.  He is now in Dusseldorf and says there is no climbing or caving there.

‘Leaner surveyors’ can take heart from the fact that recent work has disclosed an error in the survey of G.G. to the junction of Disappointment Pot and Hensler’s Passage.  This is mentioned in C.R.G. Publication No. 5 listed above.

More Additions to Club Library

Underground.   A very good book.  Edited by Norman Thornber.

Newsletters of    W.C.C. No. 41 August

                        S.W.C.C. No. 5 July.

                        R.S.S. No. 6 June.

                        B.C.C.C. No. 6 June.

                        W.S.G. No. 25 June.

Archaeological Jottings

In BB 64 the editor was kind (or foolish) enough to publish an article by me on the dating of archaeological specimens.  Several of the members seem to have got me wrong by suggesting that their addenda to my original article that I was claiming the methods I described were the only methods available.

I was merely claiming for the radio-active determination of dates, a method which was completely independent of any archaeological associations.  It can be carried out by any competent laboratory and does not need any knowledge of archaeology to obtain a reasonable accurate age for the specimen.  The radio-active clock cannot be wrong although it is possible for it to be wound up again once it is started, by the exchange of its initial carbon content with some of more recent origin.  It would appear that archaeologists are more interested in cultures than an absolute date so maybe I was speaking out of turn.

For the benefit of geologists who may be reading this article I should like to bring to their attention that fact that radio-active methods are available for the dating of rock strata.  The element giving the oldest dates being radio-active strontium obtained from igneous rocks in giving an age of 600,000,000 years.

R.A. Setterington

Overheard at Lamb Leer.

Caver.   You need a blood chit before doing this cave.

Visitor.  I suppose that’s so that they know what sort of blood to give you in a transfusion.

A Pongo Book Review

FOUR HUNDRED CENTURIES OF CAVE ART

By L’Abbe H. Breuil.  Published by Centre D’etudes et de Documentation Prehistoriques, Montignac, Dordogne, .

I must begin by admitting that my qualifications for reviewing this book are the very flimsiest.  I have a copy and as only five hundred of the English edition have been published they will not be very common.

Henri Breuil has made the study of prehistoric painting his life’s study and there is no doubt that he knows more about it than anyone else.  I only know what I have read and what I have seen in the few decorated caves that I have visited.  This book deals with the best part of a hundred caves most of which I have never even heard of.  Accordingly, even if I had the temerity to say M. Breuil was talking rubbish (which I have no reason to believe to be so) no-one need pay any attention.

The book begins with an historical account of the recognition of the antiquity of cave art and its subsequent study.  Then follows a chapter on the origins of the art, after which are sections on the distribution of decorated caves, their age, the fauna painted and the tools and the techniques.  After this we come onto descriptions of the caves themselves beginning with the ‘six giants’ – Altamira, Font de Gaume, les Comaralles, Lascaux, Trois Freres and Niaux.  The remainder of the work deals with the lesser caves, grouped geologically.  The illustrations are profuse, both photographs and tracings of the drawings.

To deal with the illustrations first.  I have not tried photographing cave paintings, but I can well imagine that in many locations at least it must be very difficult – where the subject is inaccessible - but I am surprised that many of the paintings do not show up more clearly.  Undoubtedly the best photographs in the book are those of M. Windels of Lascaux which are extremely good.  In most cases, of course, I have not seen the originals and so cannot judge, but with Niaux I can.  The drawings in Niaux are extremely clear and stand up very well but the photographs are not very good.  Accordingly, where a photograph is reproduced showing very little detail the description in the text or a tracing gives much more.  I think it must be due to the difficulty of photography rather than the imagination of the author.  Incidentally, the few colour plates are excellently reproduced and show the subject very clearly.

With regard to the text, it is very clear everywhere and I cannot criticise the conclusions reached as I have already pointed out.  I am not however entirely happy about the tendency to attempt to find a drawing in every collection of scrawls that may be found.  Gargas is a case in point.  In a number of places there are nice patches of sticky clay on the walls; over these the artists made masses of loops and twirls with their four fingers or combs.  They are exactly the sort of ‘doodles’ which I should want to make myself under similar circumstances (in fact you could find several in some of the muddy spots in G.B. where I have had to wait at one time or another).  I cannot think that these in Gargas (and things in a similar vein in other caves) are any more.  But they are all carefully labelled as ‘undecyphered’ in a disappointed tone.

With regard to the translation, made by Miss Mary E. Boyle, it is technically very good, only an occasional mis-used phrase or wrong idiom showing up.  Miss Boyle is M. Breuil’s secretary and should, I think, really call herself Mlle. Boyle as I do not think she can be English – the small mistakes in translation could never have been made if she were.  The question of People’s titles in the book is one of the few criticisms which I have.  Almost always they are translated to the English equivalent – Mr. for M. etc. – and it is sometimes very difficult to decide whether the person in question is French, English or some other nationality.  I know from experience that it is sometimes very difficult to decide what to translate and what to leave, but I do think that a mistake has been made in this particular respect.  Conversely, all the measurements have been left in metric units with which I do not complain, but it does seem a little inconsistent.

To sum up, this is a most comprehensive and admirable volume and will surely remain the standard work on the subject for a considerable time, but I do not think it is the sort of volume which need find a place in every caver’s library.  I ordered it in a flush of enthusiasm after spending a holiday looking at some of these caves, and although I do not in the least regret buying it, I would not do so again in the cold light of winter when the prospects of southern sun seems a very long way away, and when £5 odd seems a largish sum of money.

R.M. Wallis

B.E.C. Tour de France 1954.

It has been suggested that next year the B.E.C. should organise a fortnight’s tour of French caving areas of the Dordogne-Lot and the Pyrenees, spending also a few nights (or perhaps I had better say ‘Days’ as Aunt Prudence might read this) in Paris.  Besides the ordinary show-cave visitations, which are well worth the journey alone, it is likely that some real caving can be arranged.  There will be many sites and people to interest the archaeologically-minded nuts, whilst for the geologists we can probably offer them field work with the Dutch Geological Survey in the Pyrenees.

The touring would be carried out by coach, camping for several nights in the respective areas, and the inclusive cost should be around a minimum of £30.

If anyone is interested will they contact me as soon as possible - this does not mean next June.

Keith S. Gardner.
  22. Wesley Hill
    Kinsgwood,
      Bristol.

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The Editor would be glad to receive contributions for the Xmas number of the BB as soon as possible.  As you know the Xmas issue is usually a ‘Double’ one, but unless someone sends in some gen. P.D Q. you’ll be lucky to get two pages, let alone six.

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I had in reserve the start of a very excellent series of Geological Articles written by Sett and Jack Waddon.  Unfortunately Jack has now recommenced evening studies and is, for the time being, unable to complete the series.  In view of this he has asked me to refrain from publishing those articles in my possession until he is in a position to complete the series.

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Do YOU go caving or climbing? if so, tell me all about it;  the BB should publish Club NEWS but it isn’t able to as there is none.

Auntie Prudence.

Auntie Prudence, to wit Ray Brain has recently undergone a rather severe operation.  I am glad to report that she(he) is now well on the road to recovery, although she(he) is still as yet unable to resume the control of the problem page.

T.H.S.