Dunald Mill Cave – T. Regan & L. Rice Sat 23rd May 2015

As it was a dry and sunny day we decided to visit Dunald Mill Hole. Its waters were likely to be low but it is flood prone (spot the flood debris in the 20ft roof of the cave fairly close to the entrance). As you travel towards the sump, foam lines all the passage at every level so do beware in wet weather. Large amounts of foam are found at the sump and you actually crawl through foam to see the newly placed divers line from Cornhill et Al – a bit like caving in a washing machine!  Following the stream to the sump from the main entrance is a slow affair to walk/crawl as it is paved with very slippery grit stones/rocks. The slime persists right to the sump well away from the entrance sunlight. Is this pollution? I wonder what it is? Probably cow related but banish the thought as we crawl flat out and ahead. On the way out, I did the usual of taking a wrong turn and went flat out crawling up a stream until I could hardly breath and had great relief when Terry backed out and gave the call that he had found the way on.

Aside – For the insect phobic, beware red ants inside your neoprene suit while changing. At the entrance, there are numerous large spiders, with beautiful large webs. The occasional bat will dive bomb you as the evening draws nigh. For those who love their home comforts, a shower is available on exit courtesy of the forceful stream that enters the hole.

Our main reason for visiting is to carry on Jim’s good work in the left hand series with a little help from an assembly of hoses stretching deep into the cave and this will soon be taking a diverted flow from the entering stream. We had a look at the end dig and it is well worth exploring. Its a very separate cave and is well away from the passages containing new archaeology.
Some facts about the hole;

  • There is excitement over ancient human remains found in late 2014 and reported by cavers as the “Halloween Special” This is an extract from the dating report – “Radiocarbon analysis of the small skull recovered from Dunald Mill Hole, Nether Kellet ………….gave a fraction modern value of 0.7889 ± 0.0044 which calibrates to between 6 and 225AD (95.4% probability). This places the sample age at the very end of the Iron Age / start of the Roman Period” See report attached.
  • Fact 2 – Terry caved in the hole as a teenager (99% probability) which calibrated to nearly half a century ago (give or take a decade to avoid embarrassment)
  • Fact 3 – This was Jims Newton’s “office” during foot and mouth where he worked / hid in the left hand series. His digger remains there.
  • There is some historic looking graffiti half way to the sump but the “Jesus Saves” inscribed text eluded us on this visit but we did find it again on a later trip. There is a name inscribed R. Barker 1946 nearer the sump.
  • Google for the 1760 newspaper reports!
  • The hole is recorded in the Domesday Book

A photo of the entrance taken by Terry is attached and a picture of Terry “frothing” in the sump (A “selfie” by Terry i.e camera on timer)

And finally, to add a bit of culture please enjoy the poem about Dunald Mill Hole by the late Letitia Elizabeth Landon  http://www.poetryatlas.com/poetry/poem/4199/dunald-mill-hole.html


The Radiocabon Dating Report can be found here: Dunald Mill Hole

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