Earlier this week Ben and I met with Alan, the General Manager at Poole’s Cavern in Buxton. Poole’s Cavern is a vast limestone cavern and one of the original ‘Seven Wonders of the Peak’. It has been attracting tourists for centuries and was opened officially as show cave in 1853. If you are interested in hearing an eighteenth century tourist description of the cave then have a look at our sister blog here.
As well as being a natural wonder the cave is also an important archaeological site. The area around the cave was inhabited by Neolithic people and flint and stone artifacts have been found on the hillside above the cavern.
Hundreds of objects have been found inside the cavern itself including Roman jewellery and Samian ware and animal and human bones. Some of the artefacts are on display in the Visitor Centre at Poole’s Cavern but the majority are at Buxton Museum, where a selection is on permanent display in the ‘Wonders of the Peak’ Gallery.
These include this Roman bronze and enamel brooch (below) which dates from the 2nd century. The sheer amount of metalwork found in the cave is intriguing and it has been suggested that a bronzesmith was based at the cavern in the early 2nd century. He may have been producing decorative wares for the wealthy Roman Army based in the town. Another suggested explanation is that the cavern was used as a shrine and that the brooches and other jewelry were left as offerings to the Gods.
This is just one of the intriguing mysteries of Poole’s Cavern and a theme that we might want to explore in more detail in the future. The Cavern is still open as a showcave today, so get yourself down there and take a look for yourself – it is pretty amazing! I’m off home to watch the League of Gentleman episode featuring Stumphole Cavern…