Caves or Mines?

Gt Doward Caves and Mines.

A cave or a mine? Most of what we find are old mine workings although some might be caves that have been widened and lengthened years ago in search of iron and other metals or minerals, the most prolific are the area is known locally as the Pancake Mines. The top entrance Is easily found behind the fence on the right hand side of the footpath comming up from the Woodland Trust’s cliff quarry at Symonds Yat West. The rest of the Pancake Mines are to be found at the bottom of the steep slope on the left. It is said that the top entrance connects with those below. The others are just ‘levels’, mines that go into the rock face horizontally.

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There are at least five caves listed on the OS map of The Dowards, the most famous being King Arthur’s cave and  Merlins Cave. King Arthur’s cave is very accessible but Merlins is hard to find and not made easier because most of the published locations are wrong. There is another cave nearby with a notice over a metal grill door that says “Merlin’s Cave”, when in fact it is not. Merlin’s Cave has two entrances both almost totally covered with trees and ivy making it hard to see even when you are standing underneath. It is also difficult to find and almost inaccessible without a ladder or a rope. This is probably just as well because, whereas King Arthur’s Cave has been ransacked several times in the last few centuries by early miners and researchers that anything of interest has long since been removed, Merlin’s, on the other hand, appears not to have been inhabited since the Bronze Age and then only as a place of refuge rather than a permanent residence and left relatively untouched.

King Arthur’s cave has been a home to people since just after the ice age and up until the last century but later Merlin’s cave was thought to be being a place of spiritual significance up until 600 or 700 AD.

Cave spiders and many bats do live in them now.

See link below for the full storey of Merlin’s Cave. It’s a record of all Bristol University archaeological research here but just click on the last line for the summary.

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