The Devon Karst Research Society.

The Society's Homepages for the
CATTEDOWN BONE CAVES,
Cattedown, Plymouth, Devon, England, U.K.

Section  9.0.    FILM OF THE "CATTEDOWN REINDEER RIFT CAVE" EXCAVATIONS OF T.J. COLLINGS, February 1964 :

CATTEDOWN REINDEER RIFT BONE CAVE.
Updated 03 May 2004.
9.1.    BACKGROUND :
When trying to research contemporary records of such discoveries, we have to rely on many factors prevailing at the time of the discovery. R.N. Worth had the photographic stills camera and the skills of artists to record the details of locations and finds. Almost seventy-eight years later, Collings and the Members of the budding Plymouth Caving Group had no more resources than Worth, but did have the good fortune to live in the age of television. Couple that with the technological resources of the BBC Television Outside Film Unit and we have a moving image record of some value. To our knowledge, it is the only moving image record of the event.
After we had spent some time contacting the BBC in search of the film, they eventually located it. A copy of the film cost our Society £110.00p. (including 10% VAT), to buy from the BBC in its original Super 8 (mute) ciné film format. This was after pleading with BBC Enterprises Ltd. to reduce the price from £220.00p.  Whatever had hit the BBC Film Unit cutting room floor was lost forever. Had we left it much later, the original surviving sequence would also have been destroyed in a clearout.
9.2.    INTRODUCTION :
As well as being mentioned at the time of the discovery in the local newspapers and on the radio, Collings gave a live interview about the discovery for the local ITV Company, Westward Television, on its local magazine programme "Westward Diary".  This was broadcast at 6.30pm (1830hrs) on Wednesday 11th March 1964. Of this studio interview, there is no surviving copy. Needless to say we have searched endlessly!
Fortunately for all of us, the discovery was recorded retrospectively in February 1964 by the local BBC Television Film Unit and involved the "staging" or re-enactment of the excavation of some of the fossil material after it had already been excavated earlier in the month. An edited, very short sequence of its Film Unit's recording was broadcast by the BBC on the local "Spotlight South West" Magazine programme, at 6.10pm (1810hrs) on Saturday 29th February, as an item of local interest. This scenario is mentioned by Collings in his Report published in the Plymouth Caving Group Newsletter No.10. p.4. (Collings 1964d).

The following film gives some better insight into the situation at the Cattedown Reindeer Rift Bone Cave at the time of the Collings discovery.

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Click on the following Link to see .....
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Video of the Collings Excavation, February 1964.
(Active; Monochrome / Mute; Duration 65 seconds + Titles (1min. 38 secs Total).; 3.03MB. Windows Media Video Streaming File
best seen at 100% view-size setting.)
9.3.    EVALUATION OF THE FILM :
The film sequence offers 65 seconds of contrived excavation of fossil bones from the Cattedown Reindeer Rift Bone Cave, by Collings (wearing a jacket) and Members of the Plymouth Caving Group. This artificial scenario had been undertaken at the request of the BBC Television Studios in Plymouth for a short sequence of local interest material, to be shown in the early evening on the local "Spotlight South West" Magazine Programme. The scenario is mentioned by Collings in his Report published in the Plymouth Caving Group Newsletter No.10. p.4. (Collings 1964d ).
Sequence 1. (the opening sequence) shows a brief but interesting view of the quarry face to the west of the Reindeer Rift Cave, from a viewpoint at the southwest corner of the Shell-Mex and B.P. Oil Terminal Site No. 2. at its main entrance. (The Cattewater and the Cattedown Wharves are behind the cameraman). The view offers a direct positioning of the remaining part of the North Chamber of Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave, which was the original point of interest when Collings first visited the site. The discovery of the Reindeer Rift was an additional and accidental event that took place after the location of Worth's old site had been confirmed by Collings. Thus, the Reindeer Rift does not feature in the opening sequence, although it must have been recorded by the BBC film crew and subsequently edited out.

Sequence 2.  shows a view panning down from the top of the cave and then looking into the cave from the entrance area, indicating the relative position of the fossil find;
Sequence 3.  shows a bone sticking up out of breccia;
Sequence 4.  The camera next focusses on to the excavation area in the rear, left corner of the cave.
Sequence 5.  The fossil bones that are "removed" in turn are :-  two vertebrae of the neck and a mandible (lower jaw) containing teeth.
The camera then takes a longer shot of the whole of the rear of the cave as Collings and associates climb down from the area of the ossiferous deposits.

Analysing the sequence to the maximum advantage can be best achieved from the perspective of either having already been present at the time or having visited the site during the later Lewarne Excavations some ten years later. I can offer the benefit of an analysis from the viewpoint of the latter.

[More to follow ....]

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