Obrázky stránek

relics, the animal remains being wholly unnumbered; and this rich geological mine is not yet half worked out. Other natural chambers, doubtlessly, not only exist, but contain similar, perhaps more valuable features of human interest, although as yet unseen by the present generation. James Farrer Esq. of Ingleborough House, the owner of the Clapham and other caves, obligingly writes me-" I have explored a "great number of the Ingleborough caves; they are all, "in their present condition at least, incapable of having "afforded shelter either to human beings or animals. My own "cave (Clapham), discovered about thirty years ago, has been "frequently deluged with water, as has probably been the case during many ages, since the present bed of the stream which "flows through it is much lower than it formerly was, as "evidenced by masses of rolled pebbles still adhering, in "places, to the sides of the cavern. There is, however, a "certain portion of the cave to which I propose to direct my "attention, when I have time, though I hardly expect to find 66 either human or other animal relics."

[ocr errors]

Eastward of Giggleswick, on the contrary, all the (known) caves now lie high and dry, in comparison with their earlier condition as watercourses; being situate in the scaurs, at a considerable elevation above any modern dwellings of man, but mostly possessing traces, more or less numerous, of both ancient animal and human habitation, and it is to such, exclusively, that it is now proposed to confine our attention.

Starting from the eastern border of the district described, and having secured Mr. Tennant's keeper as guide, the visitor clears the ancient village of Kilnsey, with its ruinous manor house; passes presently along the streamlet's bank, under the stupendous crag, swarming with birds, which here breed in security; and thence for above a mile pursues the road leading up this vale of the upper Wharf towards the little village of Arncliffe, near Kettlewell. Before approaching nearly to this

hamlet, he strikes up the steep open pastures to the left, for about a quarter-of-a-mile, when the secluded portal of the New Cave, only found in 1862, is pointed out. Few geological and no human relics have as yet transpired here; but the cavern is, nevertheless, well worthy of a visit, extending as it does westwardly a distance of six hundred yards, or above the third of a mile. When once the foot of the steep, shaftlike entrance is gained, this natural subterraneous vault proves by no means difficult to traverse, being remarkably dry and level. Perhaps the most unusual feature here is the very slightly varying width throughout the whole extent, varying but from about twelve to sixteen feet, and in no instance widening out, like the caves shortly to be noticed, into spacious chambers, sometimes with flat, but more frequently pointed Gothic roofs of the first of architects, Nature. It has been supposed, from the direction taken—and a very circuitous route it is-that the extremity must very nearly approach, if not absolutely open into, the next mentioned cavern, and after some little removal of rock about the final crevices, guns were fired on one occasion, in the hope of their reports being heard in the supposed adjacent chamber: these were, however, not detected. Lying so deeply beneath the surface as this cave does, there is little if any drip even in the wettest seasons, and consequently being much drier than the Settle caves, it is a matter of surprise that as yet no trace of its having been a resort of man has hitherto been noticed; inasmuch as the difficulty of access must have added considerably to the security of such a retreat; possibly it remained unknown, or, even at that geologically late era, a watercourse (as from its smoothly worn sides it once evidently was), thus precluding habitation, like the Ingleborough caves during late ages. The present proprietor is J. R. Tennant Esq. of Kildwick Hall, who has allowed Mr. Farrer to examine the caves upon his estate; and, from his experience in other quarters, the latter gentleman is well qualified for

the work. He thinks archæological remains may be found here by a carefully investigating party, and also informs me of his strong conviction that this new cave is continued in the rock, upon the other side of the valley, which, by the way, is believed to have been scooped out by glaciers; but that the entrance is at present completely choked up with rock and débris. Should this assumption prove to be correct, the original length of this darksome and tortuous waterworn tunnel must be estimated by miles. Half-a-mile's perambulation, under such circumstances, having satisfied the visitor, he emerges with infinite gusto into the pure mountain air for a few minutes, when, having in the meantime gained a still more elevated position, in a quiet grassy nook among the rocks (one thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea), he is suddenly appalled by the apparition of two black chasms, yawning at his feet, and apparently leading into unknown regions of mystery and darkness: in short, he has reached Dowkabottom Hole. A portion of this cavern's range having lain somewhat higher than the rest, the roof has here fallen in, leaving a cave on either hand. From Dr. Whittaker's description it would appear that in his time the entrances were far more picturesque than we now find them; but the occasional presence of a party of excavators, under the superintendence of Mr. Hodgson of Settle, on behalf of Mr. Farrer, for weeks at a time sufficiently accounts for the disappearance of most of the ivy and ferns, which, overhanging the openings, served effectually to heighten their naturally weird aspect. The eastern chamber is of no great size; but that to the westward is spacious, and it is here that most of the antiqurian and other relics have occurred. Since the last excavations, in the autumn of 1863, and the spring of last year, it has been supposed no chance remained of a visitor's securing aught but an odd fragment of a nameless bone, as a memorial of the spot; but the writer, accustomed to make the best use of his eyes in such a

suspicious locality, found, in a crevice, a small Roman bronze nail, with fragment of Samian ware, containing a couple of letters of the potter's name, in themselves patent proof of occupation during Romano-British times. The result of Mr. Farrer's last explorations, Mr. Denny informs me, consisted of an antler of the great Irish deer (Megaceros Hibernicus), only the second known occurrence of this fine species (which has usually borne the erroneous designation of elk) in Yorkshire; a perfect skeleton of the extinct red deer; horns and a frontal bone of the roebuck; with various remains of the wild boar, wolf &c. The archæological relics then found comprised a portion of a small flint instrument and a large brass coin of Antoninus Pius, with the interesting reverse struck in commemoration of his final victory in Britain and the complete subjugation of the northern part of the island. In a stratum of soft stalagmite, in addition to the bones of the red deer, charcoal and fragments of pottery appeared, below which, in a bed of hard stalagmite, was found the skeleton of a young child, of about two and a-half years of age. The approximate date of the deposition of the last named remains, though assuredly ancient, may be regarded as somewhat doubtful.

Eight miles to the westward of the Arncliffe caves, in the parish of Giggleswick, and about 900 feet above the pleasant little town of Settle, on the Ribble, our second group of caves is situate among the Langcliffe Scaurs, which rise, terrace above terrace, in some places to the height of 1460 feet above the level of the sea-their abrupt faces, broken and fissured vertically to such an extent as greatly to resemble basaltic rocks. These columnar portions again are frequently found cracked horizontally by frost and sun. Of the higher reaches of the scaurs, a good idea may be obtained from the illustrative plate, reduced from a painting in oil by a local artist, Miss Burrow, of Settle. The locality depicted includes the site of many caves, a fine one having been found in recent times, in

[ocr errors]

the elevated scaur of the back ground. Occurring upon the very day of the accession to the throne of these realms by our beloved Sovereign, the discovery of this cavern,-an invaluable one to geologic and archæological science-is well commemorated in the name bestowed upon it by the loyal finder, Mr. Joseph Jackson, of Settle, viz. VICTORIA. To the same gentleman I am indebted for the loan of the larger portion of interesting objects now exhibited in illustration of my remarks; but many procured by him are now in the Leeds Museum: others formerly in the possession of Mr. Farrer, have been presented by him to the British Museum. The objects in Mr. Jackson's valuable collection have been procured at an expense of labour and patience not one in ten thousand would devote to such an object. Many an hour in many a day has been spent by this gentleman, in damp and a darkness only relieved by a solitary candle, his toil, in a necessarily uncomfortable posture, remaining wholly unrequited, whilst at distant intervals some ornament or instrument of early use, has given some zest to labour perhaps for days only buoyed by enthusiasm. His various investigations here and elsewhere have now been prolonged over thirty years, during some of which, however, operations have been suspended though never relinquished, and during this period, as still, he has to contend with the ignorance and prejudices of small local proprietors.

The Victoria is the largest of the (known) Settle caverns, and consists of two main compartments, each exceeding one hundred feet in length. It possesses several entrances, all difficult of passage; that now used by visitors lies in a recess or angle of the elevated scaur facing the west. Within this portal the visitor is necessitated for a short distance to crawl downward (feet foremost), on hands and knees, carrying his allotted candle as he can, to the more spacious vaults beyond. Here, taking a survey of " the situation," he perceives in front and to the right, the roof of apparently a spacious chamber, but

« PředchozíPokračovat »