December, post-‘lockdown 2’

Following another period of disruption caused by UK Government imposed ‘lockdown’ , the digging continues!

A mellow morning spent digging in the Soft South. Sitting back and observing the roof and thinking back to an exercise a few years ago when Alex and I tried to establish the depth of the entrance – we dug down c.2.5m below existing floor level but never did find solid rock. In the Soft South, at the end of the session we did not count the bags that had been hauled out to the surface and emptied onto the spoil heap, but it must have been well over 50. Good session.

Anther week, another session, and back to the Soft South, which was surprisingly dry. There had been quite a lot of rain on the north side of the hill last night/early this morning.
Once we had agreed our strategy and method it was all go, everyone seemed to be doing something; I was digging, Jake was digging, Nick was doing his own thing and Brockers, in between stacking bags in the entrance, was breaking up rocks with the sledge hammer, the rocks had been supplied to him by Nick. It was all very industrious! Sitting back for a moment, looking around and pondering, this is a big section of passage and we have decided to find out just how big. It is also easy digging, ridiculously easy. And there is the added bonus that it is completely “twat-free”. Many years ago, Willie Stanton predicted that this area might be a suitable spot for ‘archaeological/paleontological’ deposits or artefacts, it will be interesting to test this prediction. By the end of the session, all the available space in the entrance had been completely filled with bags and there was a boulder ruckle. No-one really counted but approximately 100 bags and 20 skip-loads of rock were hauled out to the surface and added to the spoil heap. Below ground, the difference was noticeable. A superb session and it is so good to get back to proper digging with your mates!

And so it goes on, the full quota of six today. Continued the Soft South excavation which, again, was still dry after recent rain, just like last weekend. Jake and Nick digging and filling bags, I was at the junction/corner after a quick foray to the Sunny South-West to retrieve some tools that were left there. Duncan was at the bottom of the entrance, Brockers and Tav worked in tandem on the surface, well aware that the supply of filled bags from the cave would be relentless with two digging. And the digging is really easy. About 110 filled bags were hauled out and emptied onto the spoil heap. It is looking quite interesting down in the Soft South, not only is it a big sediment “passage” but it appears that it might go deep too. A vertical face is being revealed with fluted calcite flowstone, the next few sessions will reveal more.

Into the Soft South
Digging underway!
Sediment deposition layering

We are leaving some sediment in-situ to see if the layering within the sediments will inform about flows and fill processes. From the small section(s) already exposed it is clear that many events have occurred in the past. At this stage we are following the downwards trend of the sediment layering. It is clear that more research is required, and this is ongoing.

The next instalment. It is still nice and dry in the Soft South and the expansion works continued. Tav and Jon were upfront, both were digging and filling bags. Brockers was at the junction, in between bags he was scraping the slop from the skip route and filling bags. I was at the bottom of the entrance hauling away the filled bags and transferring the bags into the skip to the surface where Jake were hauling out and emptying the bags onto the spoil heap. There were just over 110 bags hauled up the entrance and emptied. The quantity of sediment removed each session from the Soft South means that there is a noticeable difference to the dig at the end of each session. The impression that there is a deep, sediment filled pot has not changed yet. It was another jovial “twat-free” session with lots of nonsensical banter and laughter. This is proper digging!  

Author: mendipgeoarch

Archaeologist, Geologist, Speleologist