The Devon Karst Research Society.
The Homepages for the
Cattedown, Plymouth, Devon, England, U.K.

Please note that an anatomical, osteological and palaeontological Glossary is available in Section 20.

Text revised 24 February 2007.

A footnote by the Editor of the Transactions of the Plymouth Institution (1903-1904) in which the following Report was written by Dr Beddoe and published in 1911, states the following :-
"It was thought very desirable that the collection of human bones from the cave at Cattedown, explored by Mr Robert Burnard, F.S.A., should be carefully examined by an expert, and the Council requested Dr. John Beddoe to undertake this. Dr. Beddoe visited the Museum, and has presented the Report which is printed here."
This suitably introduces the purpose and nature of the detailed Report on the Human remains excavated by R.N. Worth during the period Autumn 1886 to April 1887 from the Cattedown Cave, now known as "Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave"
The first paragraph of the Report also confirms the detail that Mr Worth......
" ... watched the progress of Mr Burnard's work, and taken part in it. ...".
This refers to the actual excavation work at the Bone Cave, of which R N Worth was the sole recorder and about which he was the principal broadcaster. Clearly the excavation work was a joint effort. The results of that excavation are published in Worth (1887a), the details of which are reproduced elsewhere in these webpages. The following anatomical examination of the fossil material was undertaken and published after the death of R.N. Worth. It is of note that Dr Beddoe has reported on only some of Worth's numbered specimens. We do not know whether the other specimens, not mentioned here, were given to him to report upon, or whether this was a limited evaluation or even whether the Plymouth Institution selected only the better condition specimens for evaluation. Please refer to Section 2.0..for Worth's original account in which all his numbered specimens are described by him in some detail.

Dr. Beddoe's Report is useful from the perspective of our identifying the specimens currently being curated by the Plymouth City Museum. However, for palaeo-anthropologists, the Report is of immense importance because it provides the only surviving accurate anatomical data about the original Cattedown hominin remains which, nearly 40 years later, did not wholly survive the destruction caused by the bombing of Plymouth during the 2nd World War. The data in Dr. Beddoe's Report should be used in conjunction with that in R N Worth's own Report. 

We formally acknowledge the kind permission of the Council of the Pymouth Athenaeum in allowing us to reproduce Dr. Beddoe's Report below, dated more than 100 years ago. The scientific heritage of the Plymouth Athenaeum, from the time when it was the Plymouth Institution, is awesome and the science of speleology owes much to this fine learned Institution.

7.4.    THE REPORT OF Dr. JOHN BEDDOE, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S. :
[Please note that in the following report, all osteometric dimensions are given in the original metric units of millimetres, except where otherwise stated. In arriving at the estimation of probable stature of the individuals, Dr. Beddoe is offering values using the conventions of both the Pearson Formula and the Manouvrier Formula as well as occasionally using his own reckoning.]

These bones have been described in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association for 1887, by the late R.N. Worth, F.G.S.; and to his report, drawn up with much care and minuteness by one who had himself watched the progress of Mr Burnard's work, and had taken part in it, I shall have occasion to refer from time to time, expressly or tacitly. In many cases I have nothing of addition or comment to make on what Mr. Worth has already well said.
He puts the number of individuals represented by these remains at not less than fifteen. From the opportunities he enjoyed of forming an opinion on the subject, this may probably be correct: in any case there were a considerable number " .... of both sexes, and ranging from childhood to old age. ...."
There are specimens of all the long bones, but unfortunately very few of them are perfect. I think it is possible that a few more might be put together with care and patience. The bones contain little animal matter, and are therefore very brittle: probably Mr. Worth may in a few instances have been able to obtain measurements which are no longer practicable. I will begin with the facial and cranial bones, using the same numbers that he did.

1...Young male adult, apparently.
Maxilla in two fragments, with the greater portion of frontal bone, left pterion, and molar.
Frontal minimum breadth 48 x 2 = 96 mm.
Stephanic ridge ill-marked; this is a high feature.
Stephanic breadth not measurable; I think it would have been 110+ x.
Length of frontal arc also impracticable, as the centro-posterior part is broken away - it has been 120+ x.
Frontal suture has an internal ridge strongly marked.
Glabella protuberant; supracilliaries much less so; maximum thickness at glabella, including frontal sinus, about 12.; the sinus not very extensive.
Left orbit, 37.5 x 31.5.; index, 84., mesoseme; squarish.
Inter-orbital breadth above dakryon (gone), 25.
Half breadth, centre to exterior of orbital process, 63.
Ditto, measured in plane 54. (?)
Between external margins of orbits (Oldfield-Thomas), 55 x 2. (?)
Chord, 98. (?)   Strongly pro-opic.
Face length, nasion to alveolar border, 66.  Orbito-alveolar height, 41.
Nasal measures, 49 and 22;  Index, 44.9.; leptorrhine.
Palate distinctly elliptic.
Teeth free from caries and not worn.

2...Probably female(?). fully mature.
Maxilla, left molar, lower part of frontal.  A small portion of the left zygoma remains.
The glabella is here also very prominent, and the supracilliaries not so. The total thickness of the glabella, including the cavity of the sinus, is no less than 15 mm., which fact adds much to the doubt one feels as to the sex of the subject.
Inter-orbital breadth above dakryon, 24.; orbit, 34.5 x 31.; index 90., megaseme; square.
Nasal measures, 41. and 22.;  Index, 53.6., somewhat platyrrhine, owing to shortness rather than to breadth of the nose.
Probable zygomatic breadth not much over 60 x 2.
Breadth between lower extremities of malo-maxillary sutures, 89.
Slight alveolar prognathism in this specimen only.
Face length, nasio-alveolar, 62.;  orbito-alveolar height, 41.
Teeth well worn down, sloping from within outwards; no caries.
Palate distinctly elliptic; length, 55.; breadth, maximum 37., posterior 35.

4...Calvaria, embedded in stalagmite, not measurable; something may possibly be gained by careful stripping. Perhaps this was among the fragments which led Mr. Worth to think the Cattedown people were neither dolicho nor brachy-cephalic.

There are other fragments of maxillæ, with teeth, but I can say little about them, except that the teeth vary as to degrees of down-wearing, doubtless according to the age of the subject. In one of these there are indications that the nasal aperture was narrow (leptorrhine).

Mandibles.  Of these, two are nearly complete :-
12...Left side and right side almost to the angle. Chin very prominent; depth at symphysis, 31.;
length from symphysis to angle, 87.;  from angle, 81., ascending ramus being short and oblique. Not so wide bigonially, as the following specimen.
Teeth much worn on the outer side.

13...Now in two fragments: right side incomplete. Bigonial breadth large; I think it must have been nearly 110., but Mr. Worth, I see, made it only 89 (3.5 inches).
Length from chin to angle, 91.; thence to tip of condyle, 74.  Chin prominent, rounded;  depth of symphysis, 27.5.
Teeth little worn.
Mr. Worth speaks of this mandible as corresponding in character with No. 2., but it would be a large one for a woman.

There are other fragments of mandibles, in one of which the chin is visible and is not prominent.

Temporals...There are two not much damaged; one of these, a right-side one, has a considerable portion of the zygoma remaining; the skull to which it belonged was probably phanerozygous.

Occipitals...Two are notable; one of these is nearly perfect, and has belonged to an adult and yields some important indications. In it the muscular attachments are strongly marked; the inion forms a drooping point or nook.
                Length in sagittal line to ridge at base of inion  = 74.
                But to drooping point of inion about  = 82.
                From ridge to opisthion  = 44.
                Total length to opisthion  = 118.
                Greatest breadth, at or about asterion, about  = 121.
The length of the receptaculum cerebelli is therefore not great, but it is of considerable breadth and bulges laterally. Perhaps the asterial breadth may have been what Worth relied on when he spoke of these skulls as probably orthocephalic. There is indeed a correlation between brachycephaly and great asterial breadth, but it is not a very marked one when one looks for it in a wide field, such as Davis's Thesaurus affords. It is curious, however, that the asterial breadth is greater (117) in Davis's Ancient Britons and Romano-Britons than in any other one of his numerous series, except one small one of Amsterdammers. In the rest it ranges between 114., (Germans, Finns, Russians, Eskimo of Greenland, Dahomans), and 101. (Hindus, Papuans, Negritos);  121 would therefore be an unusually large measurement, supposing that this occipital had not been distorted by pressure, of which I see no particular sign. I find the asterial diameter in twenty-three male skulls from long barrows to be 115, and in twenty-two ancient British having cranial indices of 80 and upwards, 119.6.  There is a theory, by the way, originated, I believe, by Boyd-Dawkins, that our Palaeolithic men were akin to the Eskimo, but the facial aspect of our men is nowise Eskimoid.

Another occipital, of a young person, thin.  The occiput had been very prominent (spitz). Curiously, there is a tuberosity very like an inion on the lower transverse ridge, but no distinct one in the proper place on the upper.
                Length, 72 + 20 + 20.   Total to opisthion, 112.

Clavicles 3., as usual imperfect at distal extremity.  The largest a right one; length 130; may have been 145 or more; circumference about 40;  of the others, 34, and length, 124.  Nos. 2 and 3 probably female.

Femur. One, left, in two fragments, but complete.  Slightly pilastered and bent.  Circ. of shaft, 88.

Humerus 1.  Left, probably male.  Circ., mid-shaft, 66.
Humerus 2.  Right, probably female.  Circ., mid-shaft, 62.
Humerus 3.  Right, probably female.  Circ., mid-shaft, 62. (?).
(Another Slightly damaged).  This is the one which is perforated.

Radius 1.  Young, upper epiphysis not consolidated.  Circ., mid-shaft, 47.  Male (?)

Ulnae, a pair, upper extremity and shaft; lower end awanting.
            Length of one, 230 + x.   Circ., mid-shaft, 50.;  near lower extremity, 38.
            The other much the same.

Tibia 1.  Right, fragment, wanting malleolus and a small part of upper extremity.  Circ. about middle, 84.;  diameters 31., and 21.;  platyknemic.
Tibia 2.  Lower fragment, 73, 25 x 17.5.
Tibia 3.  Portion of shaft, 78, 31 x 18.

There is also the femur of a young child, not over 200 in length; circ., mid-shaft, 47. The ossification appears to me unusually advanced for so small a bone.

I will now proceed to the estimation of the probable stature from the length of the bones.
Femur, L.    Max. length 430,
by Pearson 1,621 mm.  =  63.8 inches.
by Manouvrier 1,621 mm.  =  63.8 inches.
by Beddoe 1,620 mm.  =  63.8 inches.
This complete agreement is very satisfactory, the more so as the material whence Manouvrier deduced his formula was not exactly identical with that used by Pearson, while mine was altogether different.

Humerus, No. 1.   Max. length, including trochlea, 300.
by Pearson 1,574 mm.  =  62 inches.
by Manouvrier 1,551 mm.  =  61.06 inches.
Excluding the projection of the trochlea, these figures might be 1,563 and 1,532. Topinard would give a still smaller estimate. I doubt whether this humerus belonged to the owner of the femur.

Humerus, No. 2.    Female.    Max. length 277.
by Pearson 1,477 mm.  =  58.15 inches.
by Manouvrier 1,450 mm.  =  57.08 inches.

Humerus, No. 3.    Female.    Max. length 280.
by Pearson 1,486 mm.  =  58.5 inches.
by Manouvrier 1,477 mm.  =  58.15 inches.

Tibia, No. 1.    Male.    Max. length 330 + (say) 30  = 360.
by Pearson 1,642 mm.  =  64.64 inches.
by Manouvrier 1,634 mm.  =  64.33 inches.
I do not think this bone could have been less than 360 in length.

Radius. Male.    Max. length 235.
by Pearson 1,628 mm.  =  64.64 inches.
by Manouvrier 1,627 mm.  =  64 inches.

The indications of the ulnæ, so far as I can guess, might have been similar. Probably enough the perfect femur and radius, the tibia and the ulnæ, may have belonged to the same person.
Humerus No. 1. is more likely, I think, to have belonged to another and a smaller male.

We may conjecture therefore that we have here the remains of a man of about 1,625 mm. (5ft 4ins), a smaller man of (say) 1,560 mm. or 1,570 mm. (5ft 1½ins or more), and two females of (say) 1,475 mm. or more (4ft10ins or a trifle more).
These dimensions are rather less than the Neolithic average; to construct a palaeolithic average we have not the material, and herein lies some of the value of the Cattedown find.
In the cranial and facial bones there are some of what we call high characters, and some that are rather low; the former seem to preponderate.
These people were, generally speaking orthognathous, and most of them were leptorrhine, having probably a European nose and mouth and well-developed chin, and well-formed jaws and palate, and the stephanic ridge was inconspicuous, also a high character.
On the other hand the head seems to have been rather low in the one specimen that yields evidence on the point, and another single specimen indicates phanerozygy, i.e. the appearance of the zygoma in the vertical aspect.
The prominence of the glabella is a marked feature, occurring in both the relevant specimens.
Some would show cause for regarding this as a low feature, but there is something to be said on the other side.
The form of the occipital above described is adverse to the supposition of marked dolicokephaly. Further than that, one cannot go with certainty.
There is nothing to show that they were very robust; it must have been mental superiority that enabled them successfully to cope with the rhinoceros and the bison. The platytenemy of the tibiæ, a result of muscular action, is not extreme. (NB. see Mr Worth's paper for details on this point).
On the whole (as said our great master, the noble Broca), if these primitive hunters were indeed among our own ancestors, as perhaps they were, we have no need to be ashamed of the men who, naked and almost unarmed, dared to encounter the lion and the rhinoceros."....   REPORT END.

In his excellent Report, Dr. Beddoe doggedly pursues the task in hand and does not digress for a moment in commenting about the presence or total lack of other characteristics that are of interest. For instance, the presence or absence of animal gnaw marks, which are found on the bones of other animals from Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave.
Notwithstanding this, the Report is very thorough and is of great importance.


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