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C. Busk, A. Champernowne, Channing, Chaplin, F. A. Fellows, T. Fox, T. Glaisher, J. Harrison, Howard, W. Jones, C. Pannel, Richie, W. Spriggs, E. B. Tawney, G. H. Wollaston, and many others.
Smerdon's Passage.—The Committee stated in their last Report that, in excavating the “North Sally-port,” they had been led to a third External Entrance to the Cavern, in the same limestone cliff as the two Entrances known from time immemorial, but at a considerably lower level, where it was completely buried in a great talus of débris. After adding that it had not been thought necessary, or desirable, or even safe to dig through the talus to the open day, they stated the facts which left no doubt of their having penetrated to the outside of the Cavern. During the winter of 1870-71, the question of the existence of the third Entrance was put beyond all doubt; for, after a considerable rainfall, that portion of the talus which the workmen had undermined fell in, and thereby laid open the Entrance. This cavity was at once filled up, in order to prevent any one from intruding into the Cavern.
It was also stated last year that the new or low-level opening was the External Entrance not only of the North Sally-port, but of another and unsuspected branch of the Cavern, to which had been given the name of “Smerdon’s Passage,” the exploration of which had been begun.
This Passage was found to consist of two Reaches, the first, or outermost, being about 25 feet long, from 3 to 10 feet wide, and having a northerly direction, Near its entrance, or southern end, there are in the roof a few circular holes, from 6 to 12 inches in diameter, apparently the mouths of tortuous shafts extending for some distance into, or perhaps through, the limestone rock. The roof itself and the adjacent portions of the wall bear traces of the long-continued erosive action of running water, but below the uppermost 12 or 18 inches the walls have many sharp angular inequalities. Further in, the roof has an irregular fretted aspect, apparently the result of the corrosive action of acidulated water, whilst the walls retain the angular appearance just mentioned.
The Second Reach runs nearly east and west, is about 32 feet long, somewhat wider than the first, and its roof is several feet higher. At its outer or eastern end the roof and walls are much fretted; further in, there are holes in the roof similar to those just mentioned, with the exception of being larger. Some of them contain a small quantity of soil, resembling Cave-earth, and firmly cemented to the wall; whilst adjacent to others there is a considerable amount of stalactitic matter. Still further in, the roof, which has the aspect of a watercourse, is covered with a thin veneer of white stalactite; and near the inner end there is a considerable hole in the roof containing a large accumulation of the same material.
At the western or inner end of this Second Reach, the limestone roof gave place to one consisting of angular pieces of limestone cemented with carbonate of lime into a very firm concrete. In breaking this up, the workman thrust his iron bar up through it, and found he had thereby opened a passage into the eastern end of that branch of the Cavern known as the “Sloping Chamber," the concrete floor of which was at the same time the roof of the Passage.
At the outer or eastern end of the Second Reach there was found another Low-level Entrance, about 20 feet from that previously mentioned, and having no marks of the action of water.
Narrow ramifications extend through the limestone rock from both Reaches of Smerdon's Passage (westward from the first, and southwards from the
second) and intersect one another; their roofs are also perforated with holes, and exhibit traces of the action of running water.
Throughout both Reaches there were in certain places strips of Stalagmitic Floor extending continuously across from wall to wall, and varying from a quarter of an inch to 6 inches in thickness. The most important of these strips was about 8 feet long. Elsewhere the Cave-earth was either completely bare, or had on it here and there what may be called conica scales of stalagmite, from 3 to 12 inches in diameter at the base, and from 1 to 4 inches in thickness at the centre. From them, and generally near the middle, there not unfrequently rose one or more rudely cylindrical masses of the same material, sometimes 9 inches high, 6 inches in circumference, and locally known as “ Cow's Paps.” In almost every instance of the kind there depended from the limestone roof, vertically over them, a long, slender, quill-like tube of stalactite, occasionally reaching and uniting with the “ Paps.” Such tubes occurred also in certain places where there were no “ Paps,” and in some spots there was quite a forest of them, extending from the roof to the Stalagmitic Floor. Wherever it was possible to excavate the deposit beneath without breaking them, they were left intact. In some cases the Stalagmitic Floor, or the Cave-earth where the latter was bare, reached the roof; and where this was not the case, the unoccupied space was rarely more than a foot in height.
About midway in the Second Reach there was on each wall a remnant of an old floor of stalagmite, about 8 inches above the floor found intact, folly 6 inches thick, about 6 feet in length, and within a few inches of the roof.
The mechanical deposit in the Passage was the ordinary red Cave-earth, in some places sandy, but occasionally a very compact clay. It contained a considerable number of angular fragments of limestone, numerous blocks of old crystalline stalagmite, and a few well-rolled pebbles of quartz, red grit, and flint. The masses of limestone were not unfrequently of considerable size; indeed one of them required to be blasted twice, and another three times, in order to effect their removal; and some of the blocks of stalagmite measured fully 15 cubic feet.
From the entrance of the First Reach to about 10 feet within it, the upper surface of the Cave-earth was almost perfectly horizontal; but from the latter point it rose irregularly higher and higher, until, at the inner end of the Second Reach, the increased height amounted to about 9 feet. There were no tunnels or burrows in the deposit, such as occurred in both the Sally-ports, and were described in the Fifth and Sixth Reports (1869 and 1870). Near the inner end of the Second Reach the Cave-earth adjacent to the walls was cemented into a concrete.
The deposit in the lateral ramifications of the Passage was the same typical Cave-earth, containing blocks of old crystalline stalagmite and angular pieces of limestone, but without any Stalagmitic Floor.
It was stated in the Sixth Report (1870), p. 26, that at the third External Entrance, i. e. the first of the low-level series, the deposits were of two kinds—the ordinary Cave-earth, with the usual osseous remains, below; and small angular pieces of limestone, with but little earth and no fossils, above. Materials of precisely the same character, and in the same order, were found at the new low-level Entrance, at the eastern end of the Second Reach of Smerdon's Passage, as already stated,
Besides a large number of bones, portions of bones, and fragments of antlers, a total of fully 2900 teeth were found in the Passage and its rami
fications, of which 700 were reported at Liverpool* The remaining 2200, exhumed since the end of August 1870, belonged to different kinds of animals, in the ratios shown in the following list :
On comparing the foregoing list with those given for the Sally-ports in the Sixth Report (pp. 19 and 24), it will be found to differ from them in containing neither Sheep nor Pig, and in the diminished prevalence of Rabbit and Badger.
Many of the teeth are in fragments of jaws, which have, in most cases, lost their condyles and their inferior borders. They belong to individuals of all ages, from the baby Elephant, whose molar crown was no more than 8 inch long, and the Hyæna, whose second set had made their appearance before the dislodgement of the first, to the wasted remnant of an adult tooth of the Mammoth, and the canine of the Bear worn quite to the fang.
Many of the bones and teeth are discoloured, a large number are gnawed (generally, no doubt, by the Hyæna, but occasionally by some smaller animal), and a considerable proportion of them, at all levels, are more or less covered with films of stalagmitic matter. On some of the specimens are peculiar markings, produced perhaps by fine rootlets of trees having grown round them. Some marked in this way were found with living rootlets surrounding them.
Coprolitic matter was by no means abundant, only one example of it having been met with in the entire Passage.
In various parts of the Passage considerable heaps of small bones, sometimes agglutinated, were found here and there on the surface, or but little below it. In one instance as many as 8400 were picked out of 120 cubic inches of material,
At the junction of the two Reaches of the Passage, a large ledge or curtain of limestone projected downwards from the roof considerably below the usual level. On the inner or northern side of it there was found a wheelbarrow full of bones, fragments of bones, and teeth, of a considerable variety of animals, all huddled together.
It was stated in the First Report (Birmingham, 1865 t) that the Caveearth was excavated in “Parallels,” the length of which was the same as the width of the Chamber &c., where this was not excessive, breadth invariably 1 foot, and depth 4 feet, where this gave the men sufficient height to work in comfort, or 5 feet where it did not; that each parallel was divided into successive horizontal “ Levels," a foot in depth ; and that each level was subdivided into lengths or “ Yards,” each 3 feet long and, from what has been stated, a foot square in the section, thus rendering it easy to define and record the position of every object discovered.
Smerdon's Passage and its lateral branches contained 78 “Parallels" of
* See Sixth Report, 1870, p. 27.
† See pp. 19, 20.
Care-earth, and, as it was necessary to excavate to the depth of 5 feet*, a total of 390 separate “foot-levels." The following Table shows the distribution of the teeth of the different kinds of animals in the various “ Parallels” and “ Levels."
By way of explanation, it may be stated that teeth of Hyæna, for example, were found in 71 of the 78 “parallels,” at all “ levels,” and in 188 “ foot-levels,” or very nearly one half of the total number; and so on for the other kinds of animals.
A glance at the Table shows that, in the case of the most prevalent animals—Hyæna, Horse, and Rhinoceros—their teeth were most frequently met with (not necessarily met with in greatest numbers) in the second “ foot-level,” below which they were less and less frequent as the level was lower; that the Badger was most frequently met with in the uppermost “foot-level," and never found below the third; that teeth of Lion were not found in the uppermost "level," and occurred most frequently in the third; that those of Wolf did not present themselves in the lowest or fifth “footlevel ; ” that Bat and Rabbit were restricted to the uppermost “ level,” the former to one “parallel” and the latter to two; and that the Hyæna had the widest distribution, both as regards “parallels” and “ levels."
Twelve Flint flakes and chips were found in the Second Reach of the Passage-3 in the first or uppermost “foot-level,” 3 in the second, 3 in the third, and 4 in the fourth; there were none in the First Reach, or in the lateral branches. Compared with the fine specimens met with in previous years in other parts of the Cavern, they are perhaps of but little value. Some of them are rather chert than flint, and with one exception (No. 3554) —a well-designed but roughly finished lanceolate implement~they are all of the prevalent white colour.
In the Second Reach there was also found a lance-shaped bone tool (No. 3428), 2.7 inches long, 1•1 inch broad at the butt end, flat on one face and uniformly convex on the other, reduced to a thin edge all round the margin except at the butt end, where it was cut off sharply but somewhat obliquely, tapering gradually to a rounded point, and 4 inch in greatest thickness. In short, it closely resembled in form and size many of the lanceolate flint implements of the Cavern series, with the single exception that it was not carinated on the convex face. It was found on October 5th, 1870, in the first “ foot-level" of Cave-earth, lying with 6 teeth of Hyæna, 1 of Rhinoceros,
* In two or three“ Parallels” it was requisite to go to the depth of 6 feet, in order to pass under the “Curtain" of limestone mentioned above,
1 of Bear, 1 of Horse, 1 of “ Irish Elk," 2 jaws of Badger containing four teeth, bones and fragments of bone, some of which were gnawed and some invested with films of stalagmite.
It has been already stated that at its eastern extremity the Second Reach of Smerdon's Passage terminated in a “ low-level” External Entrance, filled with true Cave-earth below, above which lay an accumulation of small angular stones with but little earth. In the lower deposit the ordinary mammalian remains were found, including teeth and bones of Hyæna, Horse, Rhinoceros, “ Irish Elk,” Ox, Elephant, Bear, and Reindeer ; but the only thing met with in the materials above was an amber bead, ellipsoidal in form, but somewhat thicker on one side than the other, .9 inch in greatest diameter and 5 inch in least, and having at its centre a cylindrical perforation about 2 inch in diameter,
The excavation of Smerdon's Passage was completed on December 31st, 1870, after very nearly five months having been expended on it. From its prevalent narrowness, the labour in it had been attended with much discomfort; but probably no branch of the Cavern had, on the whole, yielded a larger number of mammalian remains.
Minor Ramifications of the North Sally-port.—It was stated in the Sixth Report (1870)*, that there were one or two ramifications of the North Sallyport which had not been excavated, having been passed intentionally in the progress of the work. To these attention was given on the completion of Smerdon's Passage, and they were taken in the order of their proximity to the “ Third External Entrance,"—the first discovered of the low-level series.
The first was a small opening in the east wall of the last Reach of the North Sally-port, having its limestone floor very slightly above the top of the deposit in that Reach. It proved to be a tunnel in the limestone, having a rudely triangular transverse section, from 2.5 to 3 feet in height and breadth, and extending eastwards or outwards towards the hill-side for about 8 feet, where it terminated in material of the same character as that found above the Cave-earth in the first and second low-level External Entrances, from the first of which it was about 12 feet distant. There is no doubt that it is a third of these low-level Entrances, and, to use the timehonoured phraseology in descriptions of Kent's Hole, it may be termed the “Oven " Entrance. It contained but little deposit, and the only noteworthy objects found in it were one tooth of Horse, a few bones and bone fragments, and a grit pebble.
The second of these small lateral branches was in the south wall of the immediately preceding or penultimate Reach of the Sally-port, and was too narrow to admit of being excavated in “ Parallels ” and “ Levels." In it were found 7 teeth of Hyæna, 10 of Horse, 3 of Rhinoceros, 1 of Bear, 1 of Lion, 1 of "Irish Elk, 1 of Ox, 16 of Badger in parts of 4 jaws, 10 of Rabbit in parts of 2 jaws, portion of an antler, a right femur of Beaver, bones and fragments of bone, a bit of charcoal, and a grit pebble. It is noteworthy, perhaps, that the fine specimen of Beaver's jaw mentioned last yearf was found about 4 or 5 feet from the femur just named, and in the fourth “ foot-level.”
The third and last of these lateral ramifications was near that part of the Sally-port termed the “ Islands”*. It yielded 2 teeth of Hyæna, 1 of Horse, 3 of Rhinoceros, 1 of Bear, 3 of “ Irish Elk,” 4 of Deer, 2 of Badger, 4 of Rabbit, an astragalus of Ox, bones and bone fragments, and, in the uppermost "foot-level," 2 land-shells.
* See p. 25. + See Sixth Report, 1870, p. 24. | Ibid. p. 21.