Before heading on to the open moorland, the map offers one more site: Read’s Cavern. Heading ESE from the junction of paths, the track follows the course of the stream, soon opening onto a small clearing with a seat. The cavern lies immediately to the north, where the fast-running waters, cold and crystal clear, disappear into the side of the hill. The cave appears to be accessible, but only if you’re prepared for a proper caving expedition. The limestone rocks around the entrance are liberally decorated with fossils of sea-creatures from impossibly distant epochs of time.
The entrance is very small and the water pouring in suggests an instant soaking. A sign fixed to the rockface above gives an emergency call-out number in case of difficulties. I’m not equipped either mentally or physically to go pot-holing on this trip, so I sit near the entrance for a while and watch the splash and sparkle of the water.
A cave near Burrington Combe, discovered by RF Read in 1919 and excavated by Professors Tratman and Palmer for the University of Bristol Speleological Society from 1919 to 1925 and again in 1929. The bulk of the material discovered relates to use of the cave in the Iron Age, with finds including pottery, antler cheek-pieces, bronze fittings for chariot wheels, part of a bronze bracelet, stone spindle whorls and some iron shackles. Some human remains and a quantity of animal bones were also discovered. The sole find of definite Roman date, a coin of Magnentius, is regarded by Branigan and Dearne as "an accidental contamination of the site".