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Editor’s Note

Last month we said in these notes that we hoped to be able to introduce a new improvement to the B.B.  This consists of a “Picture Page” which we have in this month’s magazine.

Now that we have printed the pictures, it seems a bit rash to call the result an improvement.  The duplication was a terrible task and although we managed to borrow the use of a modern machine for the job, some of you will have poor copies.  We must apologise for this.  The stencil wrecked itself finally and so there couldn’t be any more run off.

It looks as if we shall have to leave the duplication to the experts at Roneo’s or Gestetner’s in future and this will add to the cost, so that regular pictures are not yet possible owing to the limited amount of lolly available for the B.B.

 “Alfie”

May Committee Meeting

Once again, the progress of negotiations for the new hut, mains water and electricity and other improvements to the Belfry site were discussed.

Bob Bagshaw’s and Alfie’s jobs on Pen Park Hole project are to be carried out by Marriot and G. Fowler.

The club agreed to donate one guinea to the M.R.O.  No new members were elected this month.

Caving News.

The meeting of the cave Research Group at Wells occurred on the 18/19 May as advertised in B.B. 110.  An excellent paper was read – the subject being ice caves in the Pyrenees, illustrated with some very fine coloured slides.  On the Sunday, the guests were taken down Cuthbert’s.  Unfortunately, prior notice of this trip could not be given, as it was fixed up at a late stage.  The guests were used to transport some more steel ladder down the cave for the Maypole series and also for the rift in the Pillar Chamber.

The G.B. trip fixed up for May 11/12 did not take place, as no names were received.  The keys were however, obtained from U.B.S.S. and brought up to Mendip in case!

Library.

The latest additions to the Club Library include: -

Cave Science                                       Vol 4, No. 27.
C.R.G. Occasional Publications             No. 1
N.S.S. News                                        Vol 15, No.1 January 1957.
N.S.S. Occasional Papers                     No. 3 1956.
Cave & Craig Club Newsletter for January and February 1957.

Why not come round to Redcliffe Hall and see these and other books?  Books at Redcliffe are available every Thursday and the Club Librarian calls on the first Thursday of each month.

The librarian’s address is: -

J. Ifold, “Leigh House”, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr Bristol.

And his phone number is Blagdon 432.

New Member’s Addresses.

No. 377.  D. Cooke-Yarborough.  “Craig Ielea”, Fellside Rd, Wicham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
No. 378.  John Barnes, 35 Park Ave, S. Shields, Co Durham.
No. 379.  D.G. Thomas, 55 New Rd, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire.
No. 380.  W.A. Lewis.  “Oaklands”, Priory St, Carmarthen.

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If YOU would write some little ditty
- a crafty joke or poem witty
t’would save me cudgelling my brain
to fill up bits like this again.
There must be many clever bods
To help me with these odds and ends!

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Letters to the Editor

To the Editor, B.B.

Dear Sir,

Recently I had a very enjoyable weekend hill walking in the screen Brecon Beacons, and here is some gen on travel arrangements should any club member wish to go to this district either for caving or walking.

Temple meads (Saturday Morning) 5.30am train fare 7/1 single.  Change at Newport and arrive at Abergavenny at 8.10m.  From Abergavenny, catch the Brecon bus at 8.40 which arrives at Brecon at 9.50am.  Fare 3/3 single.

We stayed overnight at the Storey Arms Café, Libanus, Brecon booking in advance (5 men maximum).  Supper, bed and breakfast 10/- and excellent fare.

This is next door to the Youth Hostel of the same name.  Going back to Bristol on Sunday, there is a bus service back to Abergavenny and a train leaving Abergavenny at 7.30pm which arrives at Temple Meads at 9.08.

Yours,

G. Mossman.

A Club Tie

It appears that several firms will make ties to individual customer’s designs and it has been suggested that we have an official club tie made.  The cost would be of the order of 10/- about the same price as a club or college tie.  Suggestions to date for designs include bats, or Bats, stalactites and vibram prints, on a dull red or grey ground.  Have you got any ideas?  If so, do a sketch and send it in.

Book Review

Caves and Cave Diving” -  Reviewed by Bryan Ellis.

First of all we will start with a few facts.  The author is Guy de Lavaur who as well being president of the Speleo-club of Paris, is also General Secretary of the French National Committee of Speleology.  His caving experience is by no means small - he started caving under Robert de Joly in 1929 and since that period has led 150 first descents of caves and has made 37 solo dives.  The book was first published in France under the title “Toute la Spelaeologie”, and this edition has been translated by the well-known local archaeologist and cave diver Edmund J. Mason.  Finally under the heading of facts, I must add that the book is published by Robert Hale Ltd. @ 16/-.

The book is divided into three sections, potholes; underground rivers, sumps and vauclusian springs; the evolution of speleology.   From the title one would gather that the book is of the text variety rather than the story book, and this is probably a fair assumption to make.  The first two sections consist almost entirely of the author’s experiences while caving: experiences chosen to show the variety of conditions which can be met while caving or cave diving.  For this reason, the book is a good one to give to the ‘uninitiated’ to read if they want to know what we get up to when underground (or at least some of the things) but if this is done, their attention must be drawn to the translator’s note, where a comparison is given of British and French caving techniques and conditions.  I have said that this section deals almost entirely with the author’s experiences; there is one chapter to deal with the exploration of caves, one on the exploration of potholes and the third deals very briefly with the caver’s equipment.  In my opinion this section is of more use as a means of completing the picture for the non-caver than as a source of information for the experienced.

Unfortunately, the second section loses much of its interest for the British reader because it deals almost exclusively with the exploration of vauclusian springs, none of which are found in the British Isles.  I expect that the majority of you are wondering, as I did, what these springs are as you have never heard of them before, so I am quoting the following definition from the glossary given in the book.  It is: - “A pitch or steeply inclined passage, leading to the surface and full of water.  Usually the water covers a large area on the surface, forming a surface basin or lake.”  In this section, the position is reversed from that in the first, there are two chapters on equipment and one on the author’s experiences.  Personally, I do not know very much about cave diving but I am sure that, for everyone who does have a little knowledge of the subject my previous remarks on his discussion of caving equipment will apply again here.  The book either loses or gains (I’m not sure which!) by reason of it dealing with diving gear using compressed air.  This is rarely use in this country, as it is not often that our divers need to go deeper than the safe maximum for oxygen sets.

The theme underlying the whole book appears to be that it is an introduction to speleology for those who know a little, or preferably nothing about the sport, rather than a textbook for the experienced.  I have mentioned earlier that this applied to the first two sections of the book and it does also to the third, which deals with the development and then the uses of caving.

The book is of a totally different style from any previously published of which of which I am aware and for that reason no comparison can be given.  I will not say that the book is dull or uninteresting even for the fully fledged caver, as there are topics dealt with, such as underground camping and some physiological studies, which are not often met with in this country and therefore make an interesting comparison of French and British caving techniques.  En Passant, the author mentions that studies have proved that urination is increased during a caving expedition.  To summarise, the book is, in my opinion, interesting but not exceptionally so; educational but mainly for one who knows little about speleology; readable but not one of those that once picked up cannot be put down.

Editor’s note on the above:  Further book reviews have been received from Bryan, and will be appearing in the B.B. shortly.

Photographs on the Opposite Page

BB113-MainPitch-PenParkHole.jpg

The upper photograph shows a member of the club about to descend the main pitch in Pen Park Hole – a Bristol dig in which the club have taken part.  A 75’ ladder was used on the trip shown.

The lower picture was taken from the far side of the bedding plane in Fairy Cave, and shows a caver coming through.

BB113-FairyCave.jpg 

Technical Note.

Neither print has reproduced as well as had been hoped.  The preponderance of black made duplicating very difficult.  In spite of this, we hope to have another go in future, and photographic types will be able to form an idea from the pictures opposite of the sort of thing to avoid!  We would like prints for inclusion in the future and if anyone wishes to compare theses with the originals, he should get in touch with Alfie.  In case anyone is interested, the top picture on Pan F on HPS with a PF 25 bulb at f16 and the lower picture on Pan F with a large heap of No. 1 flash powder, again at f16.  Cameras were a Zeiss box Tengar and an Edixa respectively.

Mendip Mining

…….Part I of a series of three articles…………….

by Mervyn Hannam.

EARLY & ROMAN TIMES

Large areas of gruffy ground containing old mine shafts, trenches and derelict smelting buildings, are a feature of Mendip and these articles are intended to give a resume of the history and development of these landmarks.

Lead mining on Mendip was almost certainly commenced by the early Iron Age people, perhaps two hundred years B.C.  Evidence of this was the discovery of lead net sinkers at Mere and at the later Glastonbury Lake village.  This early smelting probably consisted of roasting lumps of Galena (Lead Sulphide) in an open fire, and then allowing the molten lead to run over the stone fire base into rough clay moulds.

The earliest large scale mining of which there is substantial evidence occurred soon after the Roman Invasion under Claudius in AD43.  Large pigs of lead have been found from time to time at Charterhouse; Wookey Hole; Bristol and other places, all bearing Roman inscriptions and clearly mined on Mendip.

Excavations carried by the Rev. Skinner and indirectly by the Mendip Mining Company in the last century revealed Charterhouse as the hub of Roman mining activities.  The town field and the Raines Batch fields contained a number of square and circular mounds around which were found pottery, coins, smelting refuse and the remains of furnaces.  A small amphitheatre was also found, the remains of which are still conspicuous today.

A fairly large Romano-British community must have lived mined and smelted in this area from AD49 to the end of the Roman occupation in AD410.  Mines were probably open trenches following the ore veins, but mining methods were an advance on Iron Age techniques, as seen from Mr. Fowler’s recent article in the Belfry Bulletin.  The amphitheatre was used for sports like bear-bating, cock-fighting and wrestling.  Food provision might have been a problem in this community and the recent excavation of a Romano-British farm in the Chew Valley by Mr. Ratz and Mr. Greenfield has caused a theory that this valley may have supplied the miners with farm produce.

Some Roman mining was undoubtedly carried on in other parts of Mendip.  Mr. E.J. Manson’s excavation of a Roman dwelling behind the Belfry was a proof of this (see B.B. No. 70).

Several postulates have been made about routes used in transporting Mendip lead.  Hoare, who surveyed a Roman road from Old Sarum to Uphill, considered that the ingots travelled to the continent by boat from Uphill.  An alternative, and more likely route, was the overland route to the South Coast and then by sea to Gaul, possibly from Axmouth.  Uphill may have been a point for shipments to South Wales settlements and, since some pigs were found in Bristol, the port of sea mills (Abone) may also been used for lead cargoes.

No records exist of the Roman mining metals other than lead on Mendip, although Iron furnaces were unearthed at Cameroon and at Chew Park Farm.  The intense mining operations of the Middle Ages must have obliterated many of the earlier traces.

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Contributions to the Belfry Bulletin may be sent to the Editor or any member of the editorial board, or direct to the club secretary.

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Editor:  S.J. Collins.  1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8.