Park by the entrance to Biblins camp and walk back along the road you have just driven up. After about 20/30 yards you will see a path on your left. Follow this path and after about 10 minutes you will reach the rock face with the caves. The first cave you come to is NOT King Arthur's cave. Keep walking and it is just a bit further along the same path.
I don't think I'll try to explain much about how to get here because we came via a walk along the river and a detour up to the stunning views off the Seven Sisters Rocks. Personally I'd say that the easiest way is probably from a mini layby at SO548157, a hundred metres or so before you get to the bigger car park (circa SO548158) that is at the edge of the entrance to the Biblins Camp Site. From this layby head south down a track, past the old quarry on your left, and then you will come across several sets of caves on your left (opposite a lovely grassy field on your right). The caves range from large ones to tiny holes and possible rock shelters. Given a lack of information over which one exactly is 'King Arthur's Cave', I can't say for certain if the most impressive one is King Arthur's Cave or not. Oh well; they were all pretty atmospheric anyway.
If you have GPS, the precise NGR for King Arthur's Cave is SO 54574 15607. Living in Ross-on-Wye, I visit King Arthur's Cave, as well as many more in the area at least once per month and there is always something new to discover. There are several caves cut into the same piece of rock as King Arthur's and it is easy when visiting for the first time to think you have found it when you are actually not quite there. I made this mistake on my first visit. King Arthur's is the one with two large entrances next to each other.
There were large animal bones and flint tools discovered in the cave during 19th century excavations, which were unfortunately assisted by dynamite. Some of these can evidently be seen in both Monmouth and Hereford museums, though I haven't looked myself. I go to the caves to photograph their modern dwellers - bats, spiders etc. though I do also have an interest in the archaeology.
I often wonder about the origin of the name as of the many photos I have taken, whenever I photograph one particular rock formation inside using a flash, the shadows created always look like the figure of a knight. I wonder if this may have been noticed in the dim and distant past. Does anybody know?
Not the easiest of things to find, thanks to a local farmer for pointing us in the right direction!
The caves are situated just on the edge of Highmeadow Woods outside of Coleford in Gloucesteshire. See map reference for further details. To find them, come of the A40 towards Little/Great Doward and head for The Biblins campsite. Just before the first car park is a track down to the right, take this, then down to your right again. Caves down the track on your left.
To be honest I was a bit underwhelmed by the caves, though without a torch we didn't venture too far in, they may hold secrets we didn't find.
Walking back through the woods we spotted wild deer which went some way to making up for the caves.
King Arthur's Cave is one of only five English caves known to have been used in both the Early and Late Upper Palaeolithic periods.
It consists of two chambers which join near the entrance - they go back about ten metres and have 'ceilings' up to four metres high. A two bedroom flat where you can get some privacy from the kids?
Excavations have found various Palaeolithic tools, and the remains of hyenas, horses and red deer. Were these left from meals? A horse would hardly wander into a cave - but maybe the hyenas did at an unoccupied time (you can only imagine them to be a rather stringy meal choice). A hearth near the entrance was dated to about 12,000 years ago. Later Mesolithic artefacts, including a drilled pig's tooth (for jewellery not animal dentistry I assume) have also been found in this part of the cave. It's interesting to think of people sitting in the entrance with their fire, looking out - no doubt rather as you yourself would choose to, if you camped there tonight.
Although I'm sure fans of TMA don't have the 'Ug'-style caveman as their stereotype of prehistoric people, perhaps it's still difficult for us to imagine life in King Arthur's Cave as it really was. They might not have had mobile phones and supermarkets, but were the fundamental concerns of their lives (family, friends, romance, dinner, the weather..) really so different?
(The Facts gleaned from the EH scheduled monument record on the Magic database)
An outing to the caves recorded in the Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club (1874-6), along with discussion of the animal remains found there.
There's trouble with both the upper classes and the riff raff:
The author had previously told "a British lady that we had found the remains of [a lion], with the remains of elephants and rhinoceroses. She smiled contemptuously, and said, "Well, Mr. Symonds, you may believe it, but I don't; not a word of it."
A number of daytrippers went to the lower caves, "and some even looked into that which is occupied by a notorious person known as "Jem, the Slipper," whose boast it is that he has lived in the cave for thirty years, and has not washed himself for that period. Most of the company, however, preferred to return to Whitchurch by other routes." I love that understated Victorian humour :)
A little further, on page 28 there is a somewhat tall story about a huge human skeleton allegedly found in the cave c. 1700. Gibson supposedly mentioned the giant in his 3rd edition of Camden's Britannia.
There is also mention of a tradition current in 1799 that 'King Arthur's Hall extends underground from thence to New Wear, a distance of more than a mile'. But Mr Edmunds, the article's author, remains unconvinced.