The Devon Karst Research Society.

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

Section 11.0.    THE CATTEDOWN REINDEER RIFT CAVE EXCAVATIONS OF B. LEWARNE, June 1974 :

CATTEDOWN REINDEER RIFT BONE CAVE.
Text Revised on 25 February 2007.  (under further revision).
PHOTO CBC.11.1.  Showing a view of the position of the large entrance of the Cattedown Reindeer Rift Cave
in the No. 2. Site of the Shell-Mex & BP Oil Distribution Terminal, [now in the ownership of ChevronTexaco
Ltd.]  Of interest also, is the limestone-faced building in the extreme centre-left of the view.
The distinctive external shape of this building is relevant to the comparative positioning of Collings' 1964 excavation
team, as seen from the inside of the cave entrance looking out. (See Section 8.0., PHOTO CRR.8.4.1.).
Note also the concrete tunnel driven through the base of the cave entrance linking the No 2. Site with the
No. 3. site on the other side, out of view.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, June 1974.)
11.1...PRE-EXCAVATION DETAILS OF THE SITE :
Sections 8.0 and 9.0 of the Cattedown Webpages give the prevailing site details at the time of the Collings Excavation 10 years prior to the Lewarne Excavation. Until recently, we knew nothing about the cave in the period between the Collings Excavation of the cave in 1964 and the Lewarne Excavations of 1974.

On 22 June 2005., we accidentally discovered a remarkable archive of photographs pertaining to the history of the Oil Terminal installations at Cattedown from the immediate post-2nd World War period until the Oil Terminal Refurbishment in 1979-1981. Amongst other data, the photographs record valuable information about the appearance of the Cattedown Reindeer Rift Cave during the period before and after the Collings Excavation. They also contain views of the cave-interior during the Collings Excavation which we have never seen before and offer views of the whole Cattedown Area during the period from the post-2nd World War years until 1981.
The records were kept by Shell-Mex & B.P. Ltd. and when a change of ownership of the Oil Terminal Installation came about in 2001, ChevronTexaco Ltd. discarded the photo-archive into a waste skip for disposal along with other materials during a general tidy-up of the Oil Terminal Offices.
We have to thank Mrs Linda Dyer and Mr W. Webb, both former employees of Shell-Mex Ltd. and now employees of ChevronTexaco Ltd., for their abrupt and timely intervention in recovering this extremely valuable collection of photographs.
The photographs relevant to the Cattedown Reindeer Rift Cave are given below in this Section of the Cattedown Webpages and in Section 11.0. detailing the Lewarne Excavations of the cave.

.....11.1.1...General Condition of the Bone Rift :
The general condition of the Rift Cave at the time of the Lewarne Discovery is well recorded. The Society's Document Archive holds diary records of the time. From these records, we can obtain a general sense of the situation at the time. The following contemporary diary of events recorded by B. Lewarne, are pertinent :-

03 June 1974....."First thoughts about re-opening the old Plymouth Dig."
06 June 1974....."  ........  I have an interview with the Shell-Mex / BP Terminal Manager about access into the old bone cave. He tells me that it was destroyed during the construction of an access tunnel for pipes to come through from an adjacent quarry. He shows me some old photographs of the 1964 Dig, [as reproduced in Section 8.0.] and gets me an escort to the Site to see for myself. On arrival, I find that the [cave] deposits have been removed in part but that it all looked promising  ---- lots of cemented breccia. So I return to the Terminal Manager and asked for official permission to allow me access to the Site over the coming weekend. He consents to this and lends me his old photographs."
It transpired that although the concrete tunnel had indeed been driven through the residual quarry face at the entrance of the Reindeer Rift Cave, it was done so at an angle completely offset from that of the development of the cave passage.

.....11.1.2...Vertical Position or Elevation of the Ossiferous Stalagmitic-Breccia Matrix :
The elevation at which the bones from the Lewarne Excavation were discovered is exactly the same as that for the Colling's Excavation. We shall soon be providing more details about this.

.....11.1.3...Horizontal Position of the Ossiferous Stalagmitic-Breccia Matrix :
The horizontal position of the ossiferous deposits within the cave seems to be adjacent to those found in the Collings Discovery of a decade earlier and indeed, are one and the same thing.
We shall soon be providing more details about this.

11.2...THE LEWARNE EXCAVATION TEAM :
The dig was directed by B. Lewarne under the auspices of the Plymouth Caving Group, with help from Messrs. Glenn R. Latham, Mark H. Ridley and Steve Thomas (08-09-15 June 1974) and with additional help from F.O. Ridley (09 June 1974). He also had the wisdom to contact an expert in vertebrate palaeontology, the late Dr. Antony Sutcliffe of the British Museum (Natural History), for advice on bone excavation, anatomical identification and species identification.


PHOTO CBC.11.6.2. Showing an interior view of the cave as seen from the parapet above the concrete tunnel.
The Figure is pointing to the position of the underside of a hanging stalagmite cave floor, (referred to as a
"false floor"). The material forming the underside of the false floor is the stalagmitic breccia matrix in
which the reindeer bone discoveries of the Lewarne Excavations were made. 
Further such false floors of stalagmitic breccia can be seen higher up and also behind the Figure.
11.3...THE CAVE EXCAVATION OF 08 JUNE 1974 :
The Catalogue of fossil bones excavated on this day, is given in the next Section 12.0.  The contemporary diary of events recorded by B. Lewarne, continues as follows :-
08 June 1974.    "I enter the cave entrance at 0830 hrs. The place is infested with pigeons, their excreta and an accompanying bad smell. Loose earth is scattered over it to make the place more bearable. The potential of the Dig is assessed and looks so promising, that permission is asked for work to begin there that day. Permission is granted.
Later, after a preliminary look at the stalagmitic breccia, a few pieces are removed, revealing a large, complete VERTEBRA. Other bones can be seen.
A quick return was then made to the clubroom to collect tools and the excavation was continued."  ............
The Catalogue details 22 fossil bones having been excavated.

11.4...THE CAVE EXCAVATION OF 09 JUNE 1974 :
The Catalogue of fossil bones excavated on this day, is again given in the next Section 12.0.  The contemporary diary of events recorded by B. Lewarne, continues as follows :-

09 June 1974.    "Day 2 of the Excavation and the site was prepared for surveying and photography. Excavation was continued."  ...........
The Catalogue details 16 fossil bones having been excavated, together with many other bone fragments.
10 June 1974.    "I telephoned Mr Galloway, the Terminal Manager, to inform him of the weekend's success. He showed great interest and delight and suggested that I contact the Western Morning News for publicity. I told him that I was going to ask him about any restrictions he may want about publicity and that I hoped to be able to contact the Western Morning News and Westward Television. I informed him that I would let him have a set of colour prints and all relevant information in due course. Meanwhile, I am to contact him on Friday for opening times of the quarry over the coming weekend. He was highly delighted with whole matter. I hope that this caver / landowner relationship signals the dawn of a new era of diplomacy and co-operation for Devon's cavers."  ...........
11.5...THE CAVE EXCAVATION OF 15 JUNE 1974 :
The Catalogue of fossil bones excavated on this day, is again given in the next Section 12.0.  The contemporary diary of events recorded by B. Lewarne, continues as follows :-
15 June 1974.    "Arrived on Site and started excavating at 0900 hrs. More bones were removed."  ...........
The Lewarne Collection represent the fossil bones of the rear half of a single specimen of Rangifer tarandus, the Arctic Reindeer, an animal that was once indigenous to the U.K. and to Devon in the glacial and post glacial periods. It consists of fragments of the animal's skull and antler assembly, rib cage and thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, pelvic girdle and rear-limbs, all of which were found in direct association with each other.

The absolute age of the fossil remains is discussed in Section 13.0.

11.6...CONTEMPORY IMAGES OF THE EXCAVATION SITE AND FOSSIL FINDS :
1. The Excavation Site :
The previously unpublished colour images below are provided as a selection from among a contemporary collection held in the Society's Photographic Archives.

In Composite Photo CBC.11.6.3-4. (below-left) the view focusses in on the position of the ossiferous deposits. These are two related views of the main area containing the ossiferous deposits within the cave site.
(Left View) :  The cave interior consists of a large open entrance chamber, at the inner end of which, two narrower fissures lead off. The cave deposits in both fissures are ossiferous.
The Figure is pointing to the main area of stalagmitic breccia within the inner-left fissure.
(Right View) :  A more detailed view of the underside of the mass of stalagmitic breccia, which is still in-situ and cemented with stalagmite to the cave walls within the inner-left fissure.

In Composite Photo CBC.11.6.5-6. (immediately below) continuing to focus in on the position of the ossiferous deposits, the two related views indicate the main area containing the ossiferous deposits within the cave site.
(Left View) :  A repeat view of the underside of the mass of stalagmitic breccia.
(Right View) :  An even more detailed view of the matrix of stalagmite, rock and cave earth in which the fossil bones had been sealed from the air for thousands of years.
The stalagmitic floor (false floor) on the top-side of the deposits was an average of 9mm thick.


COMPOSITE PHOTO CBC.11.6.3-4.

COMPOSITE PHOTO CBC.11.6.5-6....(Photos :  B. Lewarne, 09 June 1974.)

PHOTO CBC.11.6.7.  Showing a very small section of the bone-bearing matrix excavated by the Lewarne Team.
Of prominence in the view is the proximal end of a RIGHT FEMUR (Bone No. RR 2 / RR 3) poking up out of the
matrix.This is the natural top-end of this bone with the "ball-joint" (that fits into the pelvic girdle)
exposed to the camera.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 09 June 1974.)

PHOTO CBC.11.6.8. (above-left) Showing a very small section of the bone-bearing matrix excavated by the Lewarne Team. Of prominence in this view are the two main bones of the pelvic girdle.
On top is the major part of the RIGHT INNOMINATE BONE (Bone No. CBR 4), clearly showing the socket into which the "ball joint" of the FEMUR would fit,
Directly below it is the LEFT INNOMINATE.BONE (Bone No. CBR 1.)  To the left in the same fossil assemblage can be seen a VERTEBRA resting across it.
PHOTO CBC.11.6.9. (above-right)  As in Photo CBC.11.6.8. but taken from a lower angle, more clearly showing the VERTEBRA and the tip of another hind limb bone (LEFT METATARSAL - Bone No. CBR 2.)
apparent to the immediate right of the RIGHT INNOMINATE BONE.
(Photos :  B. Lewarne, 15 June 1974.)

PHOTO CBC.11.6.10.
11.6...CONTEMPORY IMAGES OF THE EXCAVATION SITE AND FOSSIL FINDS :
2. The Fossil Bones Representing RANGIFER TARANDUS - The British Arctic Reindeer :
We firstly present a series of images illustrating a typical piece of ossiferous (bone-bearing) stalagmitic breccia removed from the Cattedown Reindeer Rift Cave. This was removed from the ossiferous matrix on 15 June 1974. It weighs lbs / kg. Interestingly, it contains a stalagmite cast of the substantive part of a fossil bone. This particular part of the carcass of the dead Reindeer was obviously exposed to a degrading environment which neither supported the long-term preservation of the bone itself nor allowed it to survive for sufficient time to allow for the complete stalagmitic encasement of the bone. This offers some scope for interpreting the prevailing cave environment conditions.
The stalagmitic cast of the bone can be seen crossing from the centre-left of the breccia to the bottom-right corner. There are other associated parts on which the casting continues.

[More to follow.]

11.7.    DETAILS OF THE STRATIGRAPHIC SEQUENCE :
[Text in preparation.]

11.8.    CURATION OF THE FOSSIL BONES :
The fossil bones of the Lewarne Excavation have been amalgamated with the surviving material from the Collings Excavation. As of February 2007., this combined Collection is currently temporarily unavailable for viewing by non-Members at the Society's Headquarters in Plymouth, due to the upgrading of the storage facility.

11.9.    FURTHER EXCAVATION & ASSOCIATED WORKS POST-1974 :
[Text in preparation]

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