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

Updated 12 March 2006.

Section  1.0.    GENERAL KARST-ENVIRONMENTAL OVERVIEW OF THE CATTEDOWN AREA OF PLYMOUTH.

1.1.    LOCATION :
Cattedown (formerly "Cat Down") is principally an old industrial area of Plymouth undergoing redevelopment and is located to the south-east of the main city centre area.
It is largely a promontory projecting out into, and forming the north shoreline of the Cattewater (formerly "Cat Water"), a stretch of navigable deep water at the point where the River Plym meets the water of Plymouth Sound at its north-east corner.
The Cattewater is part of the present-day ria, or drowned river valley complex, of Plymouth Sound where, in times of a much lower sea-level, the deep-cut limestone gorge at the mouth of the River Plym met with the deep-cut limestone gorge at the mouth of the River Tamar, before the confluence then flowed south towards the Eddystone Reef.

[To put this into context, the Shackleton Sea-Level Curve indicates that during the time of the late glacial period of the Late Devensian (20 000 - 10 250 Radiocarbon Years B.P.), the sea-level was as much as 120 metres (394 feet) below the present O.D. and indeed for most of the Devensian Stage of the Pleistocene Period (70 000 - 10 250 Radiocarbon Years B.P.) had never risen any higher than to a level of 40 metres (131 feet) below the present O.D.].

The southern shoreline of the Cattewater is formed by the limestone promontory or isthmus of Mount Batten, Turnchapel and further east by the limestone of the Oreston area. The navigable channel of the Cattewater is quite narrow and before extensive quarrying activities changed its appearance, was situated between high sea cliffs on both the north and south shorelines. The current minimum distance, shore to shore, is less than 300 metres. The Cattedown Wharves provide a modern deep-water berthing facility for a range of visiting cargo ships.


Image 1.1-1.  A small section of an old Ordnance Survey Map showing the layout of activities on the Cattedown Karst peninsula with topographic names and places, from Coxside in the west to Prince Rock in the east.
This is taken from the Sheet for Plymouth, Surveyed in 1854-1885 (Revised in 1920).
By kind permission of the Ordnance Survey (424kB).

The old O.S. Map illustrated above indicates key features and locations mentioned throughout the text in the Cattedown Webpages, but which have now disappeared. Note that the large "Cattedown [East] Quarry" (centre-right) was referred to in later Maps as the Prince Rock Quarry. The area designated "Allotment Gardens" (centre) is the Shapter's Field Area. The un-mentioned quarry immediately to the rear (north) of the Cattedown Wharves is Cattedown [Middle] Quarry containing the Plymouth Chemical Works. The L. & S. W. R. Cattewater Branch Line is recognisable as passing through the Cattedown Railway Tunnel under "Cattedown Lane" and not "Cattedown Road" as it was later called amongst other variants. "Bear's Head Rock" on the south-west shoreline is still mentioned.

CATTEDOWN
Karst Geomorphological Setting:

Pleistocene Appearance.
 
 

The buried
Cattewater Limestone Gorge

1.2.    KARST GEOMORPHOLOGICAL SETTING OF CATTEDOWN & THE CATTEWATER :
.....1.2.1.    Pleistocene Appearance :
There is a wide range of environmental evidence enabling us to detail the appearance of the Plymouth Sound area at certain periods in pre-history. Much of this evidence has been gained from destructive and passive site-investigation procedures on-shore and off-shore in the area and also by carefully relating evidence provided by the fossil record with evidence from the climatic record and sea-level data.
The fossil record also indicates quite clearly that the Cattedown plateau once had open fissures or karst shafts at surface and on the cliffs of its southern margins.
In view of the discoveries made in the 19th Century in this area, it is important that we consider further the south-facing margins of the area as they would have appeared at various stages of the late Pleistocene. To do this, we must review the reports of various geological investigations conducted on the sea-bed over the past 100 years or so.

Even as recent as 200 years ago, the southerly limit of the "Cat Down" plateau where it met with the "Cat Water", would most probably have suddenly sloped downwards and then ended abruptly in steep cliffs to sea level. Beyond the immediate shoreline and now submerged, the cliffs level out briefly on one or two wave-cut platforms before plunging steeply again to form the north side of the deep ravine of the River Plym, which is now largely silted up.
The dredging of a 2.8 hectare (7 acres) area of the Cattewater immediately adjacent to Burnard, Lack and Alger's commercial wharves in 1887 began a series of intermittent offshore investigations about the nature of the sea-bed of the Cattewater, undertaken for a variety of purposes.
Rock-head profiling as early as 1897 has determined the morphology of the submerged limestone ravine or gorge off Cattedown, (Barry, Sir J W and Brereton C. 1897), whilst more modern investigations such as that by Sherrell (Sherrell, F. 1981), offer further rock-head profiling details accompanied by details of the sediment-fill characteristics of the same site. Sherrell's survey proved the depth of the limestone gorge off Cattedown to be 33 metres (108 feet) below O.D. in one location. In their Report for the British Electricity Authority in 1949, Mouchel & Partners give many interesting details of the channel sediments and buried rock-head off Cattedown, opposite Oreston, for the reconstruction of the Cattedown Wharf in connection with the proposed new 'B' Power Station at Prince Rock, (Mouchel, L.G. & Partners Ltd.,1949). They even tentatively suggested the location of "an old undercut river cliff in the limestone", between 40 and 80 feet below O.D. Another survey by Mouchel (Mouchel, L.G. & Partners Ltd.,1994), proved a depth for the rock-head limestone of 40.45 metres (133 feet) below O.D. in another area of the Cattewater ..... and they didn't stop there! In their survey for South West Water Services Ltd., they continued in many of their boreholes to penetrate the limestone bedrock itself and recover details of its engineering properties. This has revealed much about the degree of karstification below the level of the presently-submerged floor of the limestone gorge, including the presence of sediment-filled caves!! Having penetrated the limestone, all boreholes were terminated before the bottom of the limestone itself had been reached.
Poat has successfully used a shallow-water reflective seismic technique for surveying the buried channels in Plymouth Sound and gives some insight as to the age of the channels. (Poat, C.M.S. 1985).

It is clear from all the evidence that a limestone gorge does indeed exist beneath the submerged channel of the Cattewater, at least from the position of the Laira Bridge at the innermost end of the Cattewater, down to the end of the Batten Isthmus. Borehole evidence suggests a rapid narrowing of the gorge between Turnchapel and Cattedown on the opposite shores. It is also clear that this large, submerged geomorphological feature is considerably silted up, notwithstanding the tidal currents in the area.

We are presently compiling a Link Webpage which will illustrate the profiles of this massive buried feature by using borehole evidence obtained over many decades from a diverse range of sources and stored in the Society's Archives. The compilatiion of this data into a presentable form for Web-publishing may take some time to finish!! 

CATTEDOWN

Historical Appearance.

.....1.2.2.    Historical Appearance of Cattedown :
The original "Cat Down" of even 200 years ago would have been a gently undulating grass and scrubland plateau area at a maximum elevation of 33.5 m.asl. (110 feet), sloping gently downwards inland in a northerly direction towards its boundary with the adjacent non-karstic Upper Devonian Slates and Shales. This approximately 42 hectare (104 acre) plateau level, in common with others in the Plymouth Limestone area such as at Plymouth Hoe and Mount Batten, is probably associated with a former Pleistocene sea level, as is indicated by the details of a survey of the deposits on the surface of Cattedown, undertaken in 1887-1888 by R.N. Worth (1892). He offered the following details :-

"CATTEDOWN DETRITUS, found in 1887-1888 on the northern slope of Cattedown, 60 to 70 feet above datum, in pebbles ranging from 3½ lbs. in weight to a quarter ounce and under. Contains inter alia : cream-coloured granular felsite : red-brown porphyritic felsite, with blebs of quartz and imperfect felspar crystals; schorlaceous pegmatite; fine-grained granitoid rock with black mica and porphyritic quartz :  coarse-grained rock of similar type but more nearly approaching granite. Among their associates were pebbles of volcanic grit, and hypersthene- and augite-andesite, not now found in the county in situ ; and the first of the three quite novel and unique."

More than 80% of the Cattedown Area limestones between Deadman's Bay at Coxside in the west and Prince Rock in the east, have been removed by quarrying over the past two centuries, to within a few feet of the high-water mark of sea level. However, interweaving in all directions between the numerous and extensive old quarry sites, runs a near-continuous ridge or bluff of limestone, which is a surviving remnant of the original plateau level that was once the "Cat Down" before quarrying set in.
Parts of this ridge are only 3-5 m. (10-16 feet) wide and formed part of the interlinking sections of narrow country lanes which once criss-crossed the former area of the Down. Examples of this are Cattedown Lane and the original parts of Cattedown Road. Other parts of this ridge were left in position to form distinct boundaries between quarries of different ownership. An example of this is the lane running between Deadman's Quarry and the Wallsend Industrial Estate. Until recently, one of the more interesting remnants of this ridge was continuous from the south end of the Down to its northern extremity, running across its highest elevation at Shapter's Field. This lane has now been cut and is no longer continuous.

In June 2005, the Society discovered a collection of photographs depicting interesting historical views of parts of Cattedown recorded in the years immediately after the 2nd World War through until 1981. The photographs are now being studied and some will be digitized and published in due course in the relevant parts of the Cattedown Web Pages.

CATTEDOWN

The Present Day Appearance

.....1.2.3.    The Present Day :
The past 20 years has seen the systematic removal of remaining sections of the previously unquarried remnants of the Down, for the purposes of industrial developments. This has included land reclamation schemes in the area of Cockle Bank on the shoreline. Many of these industrial development schemes have had to be preceded by detailed site investigations, to determine bedrock characteristics. The information derived from these investigations has revealed much new information about the karst development of Cattedown.
As at the date of this Webpage, it can be said that many of the surviving bluffs of limestone criss-crossing the area still survive, but for how much longer we cannot say. Only three small sections of karst at Cattedown have been Scheduled for preservation; two via English Nature as "Special Sites of Scientific Interest" and another as an English Heritage "Scheduled Ancient Monument".
CATTEDOWN

Present Mode of Karst Evolution

1.3.    CLASSIFICATION OF PRESENT MODE OF KARST EVOLUTION :
The geological setting of this limestone area and its orographic relationship with its non-karst surroundings, permit us to distinguish it as a primarily B-Type (Allogenic) Karst, with very localized contributions of A-Type (Authigenic) zones of karstification. This classification is in common with the Plymouth Karst Unit as a whole.
The adjacency of the sea has provided interesting past reversals in the development of the base level of erosion within the karst body, permitting it to deepen and then to be raised respectively, at least on one occasion within the Devensian as the sea level changed in response to climatic changes. The net effects of sea level changes both on cavern development and on the qualitative nature and disposition of cavern-infill deposits, would be recorded only within that part of the karst landmass directly within the littoral zone.
CATTEDOWN

Karst Geology

1.4.    KARST GEOLOGY :
As part of the Plymouth Limestone Formation, the Cattedown Karst, as indeed the whole of the Plymouth Karst Unit, is formed in limestone of Middle Devonian age, though of more than one facies type. The British Geological Survey has identified three main facies types within the Cattedown Karst which are namely; the Cattedown Member, the Prince Rock Member and the Faraday Road Member of the Plymouth Limestone Formation.
The relationship and physical disposition of the limestones with the adjacent non-karst Torpoint and Saltash Formations (slates and shales), is complex and not relevant within the technical scope of this Webpage to explain. Of local relevance however, are certain aspects of the structural geology and in particular, the ubiquitous north-south and east-west master joints running vertically at frequent intervals along many of the exposed quarry faces. In many cases these represent slip-planes within the limestone mass and are directly associated with thrust faulting. Within the Cattedown Member, the limestones are also well bedded. Such widespead and well-developed interconnecting horizontal and vertical fracturing is a good natural pre-disposition for the initiation of karstification and subsequent speleogenesis. Also of relevance, as we shall clarify later, is the combination of structural weaknesses with accompanying facies-type changes, potentially an even more potent pre-disposition in the bedrock geology for the initiation of karstification and cavern development.
Of relevance is the existence of a syncline.
The site investigation at the Victoria Wharves in 1990 undertaken by Mr. R. Smith of the John Grimes Partnership for Escombe Lambert Ltd., is a classic example of a thoroughly well-executed geological investigation, where although the lateral extent of the site being investigated was very limited, the amount of data retrieved was exceptionally rich. This report identifies facies changes; defines lithological changes; defines the structural geology and identifies the disposition and characteristics of karst cavities and their infillings. (John Grimes Partnership, 1990).

The geological map below gives a simplified schematic plan-view illustration of the geological relationship between the Cattedown and adjacent areas.


















Image 1.4-1.  Simplified geological plan-view illustration of the structural
and lithological (facies) layout of the Cattedown Karst peninsula.
of the Plymouth Limestone Formation :

the pinkish area (1.) represents the Cattedown Member;
the medium-grey area (2.) represents the Prince Rock Member;
the dark-grey area (3.) represents the Faraday Road Member.

CATTEDOWN

Karst Hydrological Setting:

1.5.    KARST HYDROLOGICAL SETTING :
    1.5.1.    General :
There were no permanent surface streams on the "Cat Down" of 200 years ago and indeed, there are none today. At present, there are no known karst springs issuing from this karst promontory. However, it is possible that there are buried submarine karst springs associated with this limestone area presently submerged beneath the Cattewater in the very deep off-shore channel.
There are no known permanent cave streams coursing through the accessible endokarst today, although cave sediment studies indicate that the contrary was true in the long distant past. There is water movement in the caves which are located at or below sea level.

    1.5.2.    Karst Hydrological Zoning and the Base-levels of Erosion :
General :
It is possible to infer, if not directly verify the principal KARST HYDROLOGICAL ZONES that exist in the Cattedown karst landmass today and which have existed there in the past. These zones do not delineate hypothetical or abstract boundaries but rather they serve to indicate actual boundaries of influence of water types and water flow within the karst mass, together with their relativity to each of the local base-level of erosion or the absolute base-level of erosion.
In the case of the Cattedown Karst, the presence or otherwise of the sea has had a major influence on the existence and functionality of the karst hydrological zones and their consequential effects on the process of karst evolution itself.
The Present Day :
At the littoral sides of the karst, there are only two such Zones; viz. the Shallow Karst Hydrological Zone, extending down from the surface to the sea level and the Deep Karst Hydrological Zone, extending down from the sea level through the karst mass below sea-level.
At the landward margins of the karst where it is contiguous with non-karst formations, a third zone, the Medium-deep Karst Hydrological Zone is present and is "sandwiched" between the two other Zone mentioned above but "wedges out" completely after a short horizontal distance in the direction of any of the littoral margins. The local base-level of erosion is currently sea-level, although if there are active submarine karst springs off-shore in the submerged limestone gorge, then the absolute base-level of erosion is much lower, being related to the mouth of such springs.
The Pleistocene :
Where the proximity of the sea has not been a factor in the past during Pre-glacial, Glacial or Post-glacial periods and when the sea was at a much lower level, the extent, functionality and effects of the Medium-deep Karst Hydrological Zone would have been greater. The local and absolute base-levels of erosion would have been as one.
The presence or otherwise, of a Deep-karst Hydrological Zone in the total absence of the sea will be commented upon when we have perused rock-coring borehole logs more thoroughly.
The scenarios presented above will be diagrammatically illustrated in due course, to clarify the situation.

Click on this Link to view
Karst Hydrological Zones of the Cattedown Area.
(not yet active)

CATTEDOWN

Speleology

1.6.    SPELEOLOGY :
    1.6.1.    Speleogenesis and the Dimensionally-inaccessible Caves :
Karstification, as evidenced by dissolutional (hydrogen-carbonate corrosion) weathering within the limestone mass at Cattedown, is well set in. This can be directly observed in the ubiquitous quarry-face exposures throughout the district and is most advanced in the Cattedown Member of the three limestone facies-types in the area. By definition, this is the most soluble of the three facies.
As has been mentioned elsewhere in this Homepage, speleogenesis is also often promoted by the physical, structural disposition of the host rock. Many of the dimensionally-inaccessible cavities are associated with either minor and/or major fractures in the carbonate rock of the endokarst, where water flow has been concentrated in the initial rock interstices. Most of these interstices were developed under hydrostatic pressure (within the phreas) and through the passage of time and many other influences, the fate of each solution channel has or has not developed into a dimensionally-accessible cavity.
It is possible to observe the greatest concentration of these solutionally developed, though locally dimensionally-inaccessible cavities and channels in the vicinity of dimensionally-accessible caves. Such examples exist in the vicinity of Redman's Fissure Complex.

    1.6.2.    From Speleogenesis to the Dimensionally-accessible Caves :
There are two types of cave which are dimensionally-accessible :-

(i)..From the perception of their location within the karstic limestone, there are those which are not physically possible to enter and those which are possible to enter. In other words, some caves of which we are aware, have been found or located by geophysical investigations, above, at or below the present sea level. They are often dimensionally quite large but are physically impossible to enter because there is no known entrance!!
(ii)..By deduction, the other type of dimensionally-accessible caves are also physically accessible through known entrances. However, the lack of suitable permission or legal access may still prevent ingress!!

All the dimensionally-accessible caves at Cattedown are directly associated with minor or major fractures within the limestone bedrock and in some cases, there is also a co-association with a facies-change, ie. a change in the lithology of the host limestone. In most cases, the original phreatic origins of the cave are evidenced in the speleo-morphological record.
Caves which developed beyond their initial phreatic stage as very small solution cavities into bigger phreatic tubes were then eventually subjected to the normal vadose erosional processes of gravity flow of the cave streams. This is the stage where major deepening or cutting down of the original cave passage floor can take place. This is also the stage of cave development which is partly dependant upon the position of the local or absolute base-levels of erosion, as detailed above in para.1.5.2.

The practical relevance of all this lies with the ability to correctly interpret the fossil record, whether as fossil bones or other palaeo-environmental evidence contained in sediments, as discovered in the caves and fissures and in being able to reasonably predict the possible existence of further such material lower down (or even higher up) in the practicably-inaccessible parts of caves.

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CATTEDOWN

Speleography
 
 
 
 
 
 

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1.6.3.    THE CATTEDOWN CAVES :
Many caves still survive in the Cattedown Karst area. Their origins and subsequent development are complex. Here is a list and brief description of some of them.

WARNING!
Please note that their inclusion here does not indicate that there is open access to any cave site. Each cave is on private land, which in many cases is security-patrolled and / or monitored by CCTV Cameras. Permission must be sought before visiting any cave and quarry location. Applications for access to look at caves on Oil Terminal property will be scrutinised by both the Oil Company and the Society. The Society will provide an escort where Applications have been successful.

    1.6.3.1.   Burnard's Cattedown Bone Cave :
Located at SX 491 537. in Messrs. Sparrow's Carpenter Rock Quarry, now the old quarry face backing the eastern end of the Victoria Wharves complex.
A small cave about 1 metre square lying about 15-18 metres below the surface and 1.5 metres above the high-water mark. This cave was discovered in the spring of 1899 during blasting. A vertical fissure connected the cave with the surface. Not many details about the cave itself were given by Robert Burnard during his excavation of its ossiferous deposits, details of which can be found in Section 5.0.
Caves and fissures on the north side of the same limestone bluff carrying the elevated Cattedown Road (Cattedown Esso Fissure and Cattedown Esso Cave), which course in a southward direction into the bluff, are probably of the same cave system as was Burnard's Cattedown Bone Cave located on the south side of the bluff. This is an important area for future research.
There is a cave and associated fissure in a location that matches this site and details will be given in due course.
    1.6.3.2.    Cattedown Ashton's Dig :
Located at SX 493 536 by Blast Shelter No. 2., Cattedown Middle Quarry.
We have no further details or images to offer you at this time.
    1.6.3.3.    Cattedown Cat Cave :
Located at SX 4925 5368. in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
Discovered in 1963 by S. Harris and B. Jeffery, Members of the Plymouth Caving Group during a general assessment of Cattedown under the direction of T.J. Collings. At that time, this cave was about 30 metres (100 feet) long and running parallel with the quarry face and contained fine examples of solutional forms. The end of the system drops down a narrow tube to a mud choke. However, in the first chamber there is a large boulder blocking the passage which extends behind it. The recorder comments that it is impossible for it to be extended much further because of the thinness of the limestone at this point.
We have no further details or images to offer you at this time.
    1.6.3.4.    Cattedown Esso Cave :
Located at SX 4908 5370 in
We have no further details or images to offer you at this time.
    1.6.3.5.    Cattedown Esso Rift Fissure :
Located at SX 4910 5371 in
We have no further details or images to offer you at this time.
    1.6.3.6.    Cattedown Gentil's (also Gentles) Cave :
Located at SX 4921 5356 in the area of the old Tar Distillery.
We have no further details or images to offer you at this time.
    1.6.3.7.    Cattedown Ivy Rift :
Located at SX 4952 5368. in Cattedown Middle Quarry, below the original Higher Cattedown Road.
A lateral rift extending north-west for 5 metres and of 3 metres in height. The cave and its deposits are still in existence and is an important location for future research.
Further details and images will be given in due course.
    1.6.3.8.    Cattedown Meet Cave :
Located at SX 492 536 in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
We have no further details or images to offer you at this time.
    1.6.3.9.    Cattedown Pigeon Cave :
Located at SX 4947 5378. in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
This complex cave is still in existence though greatly destroyed by development in the mid to late 1990s. This is an outstanding location for future research.
Further details and images will be given in due course.
    1.6.3.10.    Cattedown Thru Cave :
Located at SX 4942 5380. in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
Further details and images will be given in due course.
    1.6.3.11.    Cattedown Reindeer Rift Bone Cave :
Located at SX 49510 53556. at the south-east corner of the Cattedown Middle Quarry, in the Oil Terminal complex.
The cave is still in existence, though its sediments have been partly removed by blasting during the construction of an access tunnel linking the Oil Terminal's No. 2. and No. 3. sites in the 1960's. This site is not worked out and is an outstanding location for future research.
Further details and a selection of images of this location will be made available in due course via a Link on the pages in Section 10.0., which deals specifically with this site.
    1.6.3.12.    Cattedown Victoria Wharf Cave Complex :
Centred on SX 4903 5373. in what was Sparrow's Carpenter Rock Quarry.
A complex of caves proven by boreholing and geo-electric surveys. Some of the cave passages are formed at lithological boundaries. Many of the voids were part sand and part water filled.
As most of this anchialine system lies below the 4.5 metre O.D. level and sea level, it is mostly intact.
The Society holds a wealth of detailed geological information about this area and an interim selection of images indicating details of both this location and surveys of the cave passages, will be made available in due course via Links on these pages.

    1.6.3.13.    Redman's Fissure Complex :
Located at SX 495 535.
This is still in existence and is located in the area to the rear of the Cattedown Reindeer Rift, within Chevron-Texaco Plymouth Oil Terminal complex, centred on an impressive east-west fault feature, which itself forms an old quarry face.
It is comprised of a complex of interconnecting narrow rifts, phreatic tubes and dissected ponor cave passages, many of which are either partly or completely filled with cave earth and unconsolidated breccia and / or stalagmitic breccia. This could provide a valuable site for future examination, including pollen analysis investigations. The fissures were directly and indirectly connected with the surface, though these connections are currently only apparent at three locations. This is an outstanding location for future research.
An introductory selection of images indicating details of this location are now available via the following Link.

Click here to view Images of..Redman's Fissure Complex.
As of May 2005., preliminary small-scale stratigraphic investigations are being carried out by the Geography Department of Oxford Brookes University. More information about this will be given in due course. Further images are in preparation.

    1.6.3.14.    Worth's "Cattedown Bone Cave" :
Located in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
A section of the top of the east wall of the rear end of the North Chamber can be seen. We now have a very good idea what lays below the Oil Terminal's two concrete floor levels and we are sure that the full extent of the cave still survives to a large degree.
A selection of Worth's original published images, together with modern images indicating details of this location are now gradually being made available on the pages in Section 2.0., which deals specifically with this site.
[NB :  As of 28 June 2004., this site is undergoing active excavation after having been undergoing an 18-year phase of passive investigation. The cave is now being subjected to re-excavation in order to exhume the site down to the level abandoned by R N Worth in 1887.]
    1.6.3.15.    Ist East Parallel Cave Fissure (South Section) :
Located in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
An unexcavated section of cave fissure containing ossiferous stalagmitic breccia, currently under passive investigation. Further extensive details of this location will be given in Section 16. in due course.
    1.6.3.16.    Ist East Parallel Cave Fissure (Central Section) :
Located in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
An unexcavated section of cave fissure containing ossiferous stalagmitic breccia, currently under passive investigation. Further extensive details of this location will be given in Section 16. in due course.
    1.6.3.17.    Ist East Parallel Cave Fissure (North Section) :
Located in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
An unexcavated section of cave fissure containing ossiferous stalagmitic breccia, currently under passive investigation. Further extensive details of this location will be given in Section 16. in due course.
    1.6.3.18.    Ist North Lateral Cave Fissure (East & West Sections) :
Located in Cattedown Middle Quarry.
An unexcavated section of cave fissure containing ossiferous stalagmitic breccia, currently under passive investigation. Further extensive details of this location will be given in Section 16. in due course.
    1.6.3.19.    Bear's Head Caverns :
Formerly located just above and below high water mark on the shoreline of Cattedown at Bear's Head Rock, on the west side of the Cattedown Peninsula. This system contained tidal "blow holes", but has now been largely quarried away to below sea level in order to accomodate commercial oil terminal developments, principally at the Victoria Wharves, and to allow for safer navigation in the offshore channel.


Above-left :  A sketch of the distinctive Bears Head Rock, Cattedown, published in the South Devon Monthly Museum, December 1835.
Above-right :  A sketch of the same feature drawn by R H Worth in 1890 for inclusion in History of Plymouth, by R N Worth.

This part of the Cattedown limestone karst shoreline clearly had a distinctively shaped feature indicated in two sketches published separately some 55 years apart.

    1.6.3.20.    General Notes :
Many other caves exist which have not been entered in recent years, if at all. Some are purposely walled up to prevent access whilst other cave entrances exist which are currently buried or filled with cave sediment at the mouth. There is one such cave entrance which exists at the surface of the karst in its original form and is totally blocked with cave infill material. The Society holds detailed maps indicating the location of all such known sites, which will be logged onto this Website in due course.
All the above sites are monitored by the Society as they represent valuable future excavation sites for scientific development when technology improves.

To put the course of geological time into context with the archaeological and the fossil record, the following Link provides a useful general guide by way of a comparative table. In absolute terms, the only absolute dates are those obtained by radiometric dating methods. All other dates are obtained indirectly through comparative methods. The dating of the Pleistocene and its Stratigraphical Series, Stages and sub-Stages can be arrived at through various means. For example, Oxygen Isotope methods may yield different dates than tree-ring chronology for various events. Pollen analysis may also give differing results. There are clearly many overlaps in many of the dates given in the Table, according to which method was used in its construction. Compare the information in Paragraph 1.1. above with that given in the Table. The dates given are commonly-acceptable mean values.
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Table of Simplified Geological (British Isles Holocene and Pleistocene), Environmental and Archaeological Comparative Time Chart.

more to follow

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