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Ebbor Gorge

Cave / Rock Shelter

<b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by mossImage © moss
Nearest Town:Wells (4km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   ST525486 / Sheets: 182, 183
Latitude:51° 14' 2.56" N
Longitude:   2° 40' 49.54" W

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<b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by moss <b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by moss <b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by moss <b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by moss <b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by moss <b>Ebbor Gorge</b>Posted by moss


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Take the road to Priddy from the Wells Road, and as you drive through this stonewalled landscape remember that you are entering a truly prehistoric landscape that goes way back into the past. Barrows, swallet holes, Priddy Circles and of course caves and rock shelters.
If you drive into the village of Priddy, stop for a moment and admire the large village green with an old fashioned farm on the other side. Drive up the hill to the church, and there is a barrow sitting in the field next to it. But to find the lane to Ebbor Gorge, you must take the first lane sharply left just as you enter the village, drive past the picnic place on the highest point of the hill, and descend down for a few hundred yards till on the left there is a car park for the Gorge.
The "scramble" walk is well indicated, you descend into the wooded depths of the gorge, high trees, dark green luscious growth and ferns on old fallen trees, patches of open ground gleaming pale in the sunlight, the white perfumed meadowsweet that loves boggy ground is on show. Then the scramble, you enter the narrow defile of the gorge where the shelters are situated, and begin to climb sharply over great natural stone steps with the sheer rock faces on either side, where there is sun the blue flowers of the nettle leaved bellflower cluster at the path's edge and a small stream trickles down the steps, at one point the path becomes so narrow between the rocks that it looks impassable.
The shelters are dark and gloomy places, Victorian grottoes comes to mind, Neolithic and Bronze age finds have been found, perhaps they were more burial place that living quarters. Upwards to the viewpoint over the gorge itself, steep, steep cliff like faces of rock covered with vegetation and tall trees in the gorge below, gives it a rainforest look and of course there is also a misty view to Glastonbury Tor with Wearyall Hills' long length blending into the landscape.
If you drive back to Priddy you should see some of the Nine Barrows on the horizon, turning left from the carpark takes you to Wookey Hole, and not too far away is Westbury Sub Mendip, where I believe half million year old bones were found…..
Its a middling demanding walk, steep paths and a bit of rock climbing.
moss Posted by moss
16th July 2007ce

Thank you IronMan and hamish - this place could not disappoint. The wood anemones and violets were out in force. We walked through the gorge, climbed up the foot-shined rocks through the gap, and ended up sitting on the naturally stepped grassy area at the top. The peace was fantastic in the gorge, birdsong and the sound of the breeze in the trees and plants. It could almost have been any era, there was nothing to give it away. It was so removed from modern noise and nonsense. The view from the top was fantastic. Some other people were sat there too, but there was space enough for everybody and I didn't wish to have the place to ourselves.

One thing that struck me on the way here was the difference between the bleak Mendips landscape (open, flattish, exposed - still winter really) and the enclosed protected feel of the gorge and its woodland. Fair enough, the climate on the mendips may have been different in prehistoric times, but perhaps the difference in enclosedness (tree cover permitting) would have been the same. It's a truly 'liminal' spot, opposing the enclosed gorge and subterranean caves with the extraordinary open views across the flat (and once shimmery with water) Somerset levels. Perhaps that's of some significance (I'm sure it underlies part of the site's appeal for me).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th April 2003ce
Edited 9th April 2003ce


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Details of Beaker Cave rock shelter on Pastscape

A rock shelter containing Beaker-associated material was excavated in 1931 by HE Balch. The finds are in Wells Museum. Jackson (in Cullingford 1962) states that the discoveries were made in 1953, while Barrington and Stanton attribute the Beaker finds to 1931 and refer to further work in 1951. Finds included a skeleton and the remains of three other individuals, associated with a large Beaker sherd and a floor of limestone flagstones. The sherd and bones are in Wookey Hole Museum.
Chance Posted by Chance
18th April 2015ce
Edited 3rd April 2016ce

A small rock shelter near the head of Ebbor Gorge known as "Bridged Pot Hole" consists of a funnel-shaped dissolution hole some 8-10ft in diameter, partially roofed and open on the downhill W side. It was discovered and partially excavated by Balch in 1926 who found in the first 2ft a few fragments of hand-made black pottery, and a decorated fragment possibly of a beaker. At 3ft a polished stone axe 7" long was found - probably of Neolithic or Early Bronze age date, also a flint knife 4.25" by 1.25", a short scraper and a number of flakes. In a niche in the rock a hoard of eleven leaf-shaped bifacial spearheads, and a group of levelling flakes were found. Late pleistocene bones occurred from 4ft to 8ft. This site provides evidence of human occupation of apparently Upper Palaeolithic character associated with a late glacial found. Finds in Wells museum. {1}

1 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1966 ST54NW30 SCPD
2 Mention - Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 1959 vol 25, 262-4
3 Excavation report - Antiquaries Journal 1928 vol 8, 197-204
4 Finds stored - WELLSM

Record created by:
Ed Dennison in September 1985

© Copyright Somerset County Council 2003

With thanks to the Somerset Museums Service for the link to this information.
jimit Posted by jimit
14th November 2003ce

On the W side of Ebbor Gorge is a little creep leading to a shelter known as Outlook Cave. A leaf-shaped flint arrow or spear head was found at a depth of 1ft in the entrance way and is now in Wells museum. Human bones lay just on the surface of the inner cave floor - obviously dug up by animals - but with no associated finds. Further digging revealed remains of the bear and reindeer, a fragment of fingernail decorated light brown ware (the edge of a cup or bowl) and two fragments of undecorated black ware. In conclusion this would seem to be an occupied rock shelter of Neolithic and possibly earlier date. {1}

Scheduled 27.9.91. {5}

Some confusion over location as scheduling document gives different NGR from OSAD. English Heritage NGR given above, as OSAD reference is called Lion Cave on OS map. {6}

High on the right bank of the gorge, 58m above the present valley floor and 50m below the plateau. An artificially widened entrance 1m by 1.5m high leads to a small chamber extending c.12m, with a passage to the east. {8}

1 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1966 ST54NW29 SCPD
2 Mention - Balch, E 1914 "Wookey Hole: its caves and cave dwellers", 146-7
3 Mention - Balch, E. 1947 "The Great Cave of Wookey Hole", 96-7
4 Finds stored - WELLSM
5 Correspondence - EH to SCC 30.9.91 scheduling doc.
6 Personal communication - Webster, CJ SCED
7 Description - Barrington, N, and Stanton, W 1977 "Mendip - The Complete Caves.."
8 Detailed records - MPP evaluation 1986 in HER files file
9 Sketch plan - Caves of Ebbor Gorge sepS6 see ref {8}

Record created by:
Ed Dennison in September 1985

© Copyright Somerset County Council 2003

With thanks to the Somerset Museums Service for the link to this information.
jimit Posted by jimit
14th November 2003ce

There are a number of caves in the rocks of Ebbor Gorge (though I must admit my mind was on the plants, not the caves) with satisfying names like 'Little Cave' 'Savory's hole' and 'Bracelet Cave'. Tools and bones from many eras including the Neolithic have been found here. Apparently some of the artefacts are on view at Wookey Hole. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th April 2003ce


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Real Alternative Site

Article on history of Ebbor Gorge
moss Posted by moss
16th April 2012ce
Edited 16th April 2012ce