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14 January 2011
Plea for excavating an ancient cave in Derbyshire

The author of a book about caves in Derbyshire (England) is calling for archaeological investigations at the country's largest cave entrance, in Castleton. Teams that have requested permission for a dig at the 'Devil's Arse', also known as Peak Cavern, have been turned down.
     Stephen Cliffe, who wrote Derbyshire Cavemen, said the cavern has the largest entrance in Britain and bones of extinct animals are regularly discovered near the surface. "Peak Cavern is a clean slate begging to be explored. Quite recently the custodian there, Richard Taylor, picked up the tooth of a woolly rhino lying in sediment beside the main tourist path and he believes quicklime in the cavern roof nearby was produced by fires lit by Neanderthals in prehistoric times."
     Archaeological excavations are prohibited under the terms of the lease from its owner, the Duchy of Lancaster. But Mr Cliffe said: "Given the massive public interest in programmes like Meet the Ancestors and Time Team, this seems crazy. It would be an ideal opportunity to push the boundaries of knowledge even further about our earliest human ancestors."

Edited from Sheffield Telegraph (13 January 2011)

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