The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Thor's Cave

Cave / Rock Shelter


Well here's some weirdness which would certainly have caught the eye and imagination of anyone who could have seen it in prehistory, if that's possible (bear with the first bit, without it the second makes no sense).
To the Editor of the Staffordshire Advertiser.

"Sir,—The extraordinary explosions that issue from a cleft in a rock near Wetton (an account of which lately appeared in the 'Reliquary') are a circumstance extremely puzzling ; so much so that a satisfactory solution appears almost hopeless. The attempt by your correspondent that appeared lately in your valuable paper is certainly very ingenious, and to many may appear a satisfactory one. But residing, as I do, in the immediate vicinity, I am well acquainted with the district and with circumstances that set aside the mere possibility of the reports being caused by pent-up atmospheric air upon the accession of a flood filling the subterranean course.

During the present hot and dry summer a river(except to Darfur bridge, a little below Wetton mill) has had no existence, yet loud explosions were heard by several persons on the 25th of June, and as well attested as any of the previous ones. Besides, no flood, however great and sudden, could produce an explosion or expulsion of air from the fissure in the rock, which is sixty or seventy yards or more above the bed of the river. The subterranean course throughout is directly beneath the upper or surface one, and, owing to the dislocations of the strati, numerous communications exist betwixt them. Not many of these holes or clefts can be seen on walking along the dry bed, owing to their being covered by blocks of limestone, bouldered grit, stones, and pebbles.

Whilst we were clearing out Thor's Cave, which overlooks the bed of the river, a heavy thunderstorm, in the distance, suddenly filled the subterranean passage with water, which also flowed down the previously dry bed at the surface, when I witnessed a novel and pretty sight—numerous small jets of water forced up by pent-up air, which indicated tbe progress of infilling in the underground channel.

Noiselessly the puny fountains continued to advance, and the water from below to rise and mingle with the stream above. It is evident, when the communications are so free and requent, that other causes than pent-up air originate the loud reports that issue from the fissure in the rock. With respect to the flames said to be seen after the reports, we have the united testimony of three men, two of whom were certainly highly terrified at the time, but they still positively adhere to their first relation.
The third person was a cool spectator, who went purposely to a neighbouring eminence, and as near as he durst venture, to witness the occurrence.

It has been suggested that large cavities, connected by strait and intricate passages, may exist, where falls of rock take place occasionally, and that cherty fragments, by producing sparks, would ignite hydrogen gas. However scientific individuals may differ in their attempt to explain the cause, the fact that explosions do occur is too notorious to be ignored, although nothing similar in nature has been recorded.—Yours, &c,
"Wetton, Aug. 10th, 1870."
The jets of water sound truly strange. And you can't help wondering whether that's why the cave is 'Thor's Cave' - Thor had a hammer and was responsible for lightning (hence the explosions and the flames?). Yep it's another of my speculations but I like it. Yeah I know - it's more likely to do with Thyrs / Thurs cave, and linking back to Hobthrush...

(An unrelated but bizarre fact is that 'The Verve' filmed one of their videos here, apparently.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
31st August 2006ce
Edited 3rd April 2009ce

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