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Belfry Bulletin BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB Vol. 3 No. 20

February 1949

PROGRAMME FOR MARCH, APRIL AND MAY.1949. Sat 5th March, August Hole and Longwood. Sun.20th March. Eastwater. Sat April 9th. Burrington. Sun. April 24th. Swildons Hole. Note. There will be great activities over Easter. Details from Hon. Sec. later. Sat. May 14th. G.B. Sun. 29th. May. Stoke Lane. Other trips will of course be run as usual most weekends; details will be fixed on Thursday evenings. ****************************** Another Menace Episode. by J.V. Morris. This article is short and in the form of a letter and should really come under the heading ‘From the -----‘, but as it is in the Menace’s usual style we think it deserves a better fate. Ed. I am still in the land of the living and have returned from my climbing trip in one piece. The sole damage, over the trip was a badly sprained ankle on George’s side, and one heel off my climbing boot. The weather couldn't have been worse, and we climbed under appalling conditions. We climbed the Arêtes and Chimneys on Gable and Scafell Pinnacle by Deep Ghyll which is a severe. Under the conditions we climbed I should think it would be classed as an Exceptionally severe, and we were nearly beaten by the big Cave Ditch, which was as wet as the Swildon’s 40ft. pitch, with the difference of 400 feet to fall. We also did the gullies of Great End, climbed a new route up the south east Buttress by a series of cracks, chimneys and slabs. It was about the most difficult climb I have done, as the rock was loose, covered with moss and streaming with water. Also included in this course were two Lay Backs and a hand traverse, and there was no break away either side in fact it was the hardest climb I have done. Incidentally this climb was due to us mistaking the directions in the book of words, and when we enquired about it from the regulars; we found that it had never been climbed direct before, so we have a new climb to our credit, though I cannot imagine it becoming a popular course. Some interesting Theories on Stoke Lane Swallet, by A.M. Innes. Stoke Lane Swallet does not present a very imposing entrance, but there is no doubt that once the first sump is passed, the chambers and passages then revealed are some of the best in the Mendip series of Caves. In my opinion Stoke Lane Swallet is really formed of two parts, one old and the other comparatively recent. The old part is reached just after the first sump, but before the second, and consists of the large chambers. This is probably part of a system that a long time ago stretched from the Hunting Lodge Swallet to St. Dunstans Well, l½ miles away. However, due to some occurrence on the hills, a Valley was cut across this. cave by the stream which now passes through Stoke Lane Village and into the cave entrance. The valley stretches northward from the village, past Stoke Lane Entrance and Browne’s Hole to Edford. This naturally destroyed part of the cave and blocked the stream passage, the water which entered at Hunting Lodge Swallet now escaping by some other route. Water, probably an overflow from the Hunting Lodge stream has been known to flow from the entrance to Browne’s Hole, showing that an active system exists behind it.

BB20/2 Exactly opposite Browne’s Hole on the west side of the valley is a similar arch now blocked, which is probably the old stream passage and the continuation of Browne’s Hole. Pitted on the hillside above this arch are numerous depressions which may prove to be an entrance into the Bone Chamber. The new system is the crawl stretching from the entrance to the first sump and was probably formed by the stream which formed the valley being diverted into a small passage. This was then enlarged to give us our main route into the main cave. The stream entering here combines underground with those from Withybrook and other swallets to flow out at St. Dunstans Well with a volume many times that at Stoke Lane. After the valley was formed, Stoke Lane II was open to the surface and had an accessible and probably large entrance. This is proved by the following fact. Bordering on the Bone Chamber is the Throne Room. This contains two very large stalagmites which have been named the King and Queen. Exactly in front of the Queen and between it and the connecting passage to the Bone Chamber is a small stalagmite about 10 inches in height and 4 to five inches in diameter. When this was found in 1947 it consisted of an old stump with a new stalagmite growing on top. Lying nearby was the old top of the stalagmite which had been broken off. Surrounding the present formation and the old stump was a ring of charcoal. The soot marks on the new part shows that the fire had been lit after its formation. Bearing in mind it is apparent that persons entered the cave a very long time ago and broke this stalagmite off. Also that comparatively recently the cave had again been entered and that other persons hid lit a fire around the stalagmite, and also on a large flat rock in the Bone Chamber. This is substantiated by the fact that of the bones found on the slope of the Bone Chamber, they nearly all fall into two distinct ages. The questions which now arise are: a. Why was the stalagmite originally broken off? and b. Why was afire lit around it a long time after? The latter of these two incidents may be concerned with some rite or sacrifice, but neither may be answered correctly until the entrance used by these people has been dug and examined to exactly determine its use. Before the entrance can be dug, however, it has to be located. The recent survey that was made is only provisional and the site of the entrance will remain undiscovered until the detailed survey is complete, unless it is stumble upon by chance. The detailed survey may not be done before the summer owing to wet weather and bad conditions. There are only two possible places where the entrance can be, a. in the shake hole adjacent to the stream entrance, or b. on the side of the valley. If the entrance is on the side of the valley there are two other possible alternatives. 1. The Bone Chamber stretches from the valley towards the shake hole, and 2. the Bone Chamber lies after the shake hole having a string of chambers between it and the entrance in the valley side, the shake-hole being formed by one of these chambers collapsing. If the latter is the case, then the Bone Chamber was the inner recess of the cave and the bones are accounted for by people being trapped in the Bone Chamber when the shake hole collapse occurred. Because of the following points I am inclined to think that the entrance is on the side of the valley, not in the shake hole, and that the Bone Chamber lies between the valley and the shake hole. 1. It is doubtful whether the shake hole is as old as the new stalagmite in the Throne Room, showing the entrance is elsewhere. This point may indicate that the Bone Chamber lies after the shake hole. 2. Shake hole collapse past the second sump would explain why severe flooding is occurring in the cave. (Stream passage past sump partially blocked by fallen boulders.) 3. There is no sign in the shake hole of there ever been any entrance large enough to attract even a modern caver. However, until another survey can be made, and the Bone Chamber pinpointed accurately, digging will be partially dormant and the above remain as pure theory. A.M. Innes This very interesting article exp1ains a number of points in connection with Stoke Lane that time alone will verify. There must be several schools of thought on the subject; however, would anyone else like to advance any alternative theories? Ed. ****************************************

BB20/3 PERSONAL Yet again!! Another member has gone and got himself engaged. We are please to announce that Pat Woodroffe recently became engaged to Miss Margaret Illingworth. ************************************* BRITISH CAVER VOL 19 will be ready in March. To the old timers the ‘B.C.’ needs no introduction; to those unfamiliar with it, the ‘B.C.’ is the B.E.C. official journal (Together with some other 10 other societies) and is crammed full of things of interest to cavers. Copies are 6/6 each or a ream of 10x8 paper. Send your orders now to: - G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Way, New Milton, Hants. ************************************* Cave Diving Group News Two members of the London Section, Bill Mack and D.A. Coase, (wots this, Don, a transfer? Ed.) Working with the C.D.G. Derbyshire Section, after a 380ft. dive, having come out above water into a large passage with a stream flowing along the bottom, nowhere more than waist deep. This was followed for several hundred feet until time compelled a retreat. ************************************* THE BELFRY The new Belfry Stands!!!! The walls and roof are up. The roof is watertight and the glazing is done. BUT there is still plenty to do. So come on you slackers forget the hole on the ground for a weekend or so and give a hand to finish what will be the best Caving H.Q. in England. Thanks are due to the small band who week after week have toiled and strained to get as far as they have. ************************************* Articles for the BB. Do you like reading the BB, or do you say what, again? when one comes. If the latter you won’t read this anyway. If the former remember the BB is kept alive by contributions of the members; without your efforts it will die. Anything that interests you will interest us send it to the Hon. Ed. BB c/o Hon. Sec. ************************************ Photographs. In the near future a selection of P.C. prints of Stoke Lane will be available price 6d. each. We shall be pleased to send a set on approval to any member, who can select those he requires and return the rest with the cash for those selected. If larger prints are required, this can be arranged. Don Coase is doing the work for us and a percentage of each 6d. goes into the club funds. Please send requests for print to the Hon. Sec. ************************************ Club Library. Since the note in the last BB requesting the return of Books, only one member has had the courtesy to return any. If those members who have books do not return them pronto, further steps will be taken to speed up their return. T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec. ************************************** WALKING AND CLIMBING SECTIONS The response for names for the above sections has been good, and we are pleased to announce that Roy Wallace has consented to take charge of the walking section. Roy is one of our oldest members and is an enthusiastic walker. As many know a small group of B.E.C. members have been walking for some time now (Getting tired out by now. Ed) and have had some very enjoyable times together.

BB20/4 Roy has submitted the following:I propose after talking it over with S. Herman and G. Fenn, to go ahead with a programme we are getting up for our own enjoyment this summer, consisting of one evening ramble per week, and a Sunday ramble occasionally. Anyone interested in walking would be welcome to come along and should the numbers warrant some better form of organisation or a fuller programme, I will endeavour to arrange one, I hope this will come about and be the beginnings of a good Walking Club that will give as much pleasure to others as walking gives to me. Roy Wallace A programme will be fixed as soon as the evenings become lighter and will be printed in the BB. Membership of the Walking or climbing section is open automatically to all B.E.C. members, but does not preclude all persons joining specifically for climbing etc. The Climbing Section has seven names appended to date and we are looking for a suitable tutor. Several names have been suggested, and we hope to make an announcement soon. ********************************* GRAND SHORTS AUCTION. Remember chaps, the auction of Henry Shelton’s Natty Shorts closes at the end of the month. Bidding is now standing at 27/6. Come on you bods make a beast of yourselves. Who makes a bid of 30/-?? *********************************

From the Hon. Sec's Post Bag, From J.H. Rapley, London. In the Middle Ages and during the Roman Occupation of Britain, the Mendips were regarded as a rich source of lead, which occurred in large quantities in cavities in the Limestone. These deposits were not discovered by investigating the outcrops of regular lodes or veins, but by their being seen either on the surface of the ground or more particularly in the caves. Where discovered these deposits were followed as far below water level as the primitive pumping apparatus would allow, after which they had to be abandoned. These deposits are distributed irregularly through the limestone and can only be discovered by exposed (particularly underground) or by geophysical prospecting, which is a complicated and not entirely satisfactory method in the case of small deposits. From Andre C. I am very impressed by the advancements made by the B.E.C. I was very pleased to see that my cartoons were received so very favourably by the public at the recent exhibition. Keep up the good work chaps!! Hope to see you all again soon, Andre. ******************************** We have received from Terry Reed, now on leave in England; two plans. They are of two caves discovered by him whilst on vacation near Coombe Martin. They will be reproduced when our cartographer has finished copying them. ******************************** LIFE MEMBERSHIP OF THE B.E.C. At the Annual General Getting the amount of a Life Subs. was left for the Committee to decide. At the last Committee Meeting it was agreed that this subs, be 5 gns. Our first paid life member has been enrolled. Who will be the second?? ******************************** Have you forgotten YOUR annual subs.? ********************************

Belfry Bulletin Number 020