26th June 2016

With Jake and Tav.

Following a recent visit at the end of May to the Yorkshire Dales where I participated in the Haggs Brow Cave Excavation Project I had been reminded how effective ‘capping’ was in the reduction of boulders. I decided that I would obtain the necessary equipment, made a few enquiries and now there is a set of ‘capping rods’ and sundry items in my possession and ready for use.

At the cave there were several large boulders at the bottom of the entrance that were awaiting removal and I set about the task of reducing them to more easily managed pieces. While I was busy in the entrance Jake and Tav went ahead to continue digging.

In general, the boulders split well, although sometimes a little too aggressively, this might be a consequence of the variable density of dolomitic conglomerate. I will need to get hold of a mixture of cartridge strengths to overcome this. Anyway the outcome was a good pile of rubble to shift later.

I packed the kit away and went along the passage to start to clear away the back-log of filled bags to the entrance only to have complete light failure (should have changed batteries). So had to go back down to the farm to get a spare light from the van. On my return I discovered that Tav and Jake had effectively walled themselves in at the end of the cave with an increasingly large pile of rocks and bags. It was warm work removing the blockage, especially rolling another large rock towards the entrance. Tav then called back to say that Jake was filling the last couple of bags and digging was now impeded by a large rock that required my attention.

Jake and Tav returned from the dig to clear the spoil to the surface while I headed up to the end. It was indeed a large rock and required half a dozen or so holes to break it into suitably sized lumps ready for removal. A second boulder to one side needs to be better exposed before that can be dealt with. Packed away my kit for a second time and headed off to re-join the others.

The considerable pile of rock, rubble and bags had been cleared to the surface and the large boulder that I had dragged part way back was now sat on the ledge at the bottom of the entrance ready for capping – but the consensus of opinion was that it will wait until next week. It had been a good session and it was now time for the pub.

Author: mendipgeoarch

Archaeologist, Geologist, Speleologist