CPAT Regional Historic Environment Record
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Cefn Old Cave

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 102136
Trust : Clwyd Powys
Community : Cefnmeiriadog
Unitary authority : Denbighshire
NGR : SJ02037049
Site Type (preferred type first) : PALAEOLITHIC CAVE OCCUPATION
Status : scheduled monument

Description :

Scheduling revised 24/8/90.

The existing HER reference to the Old Cave suggests that it was explored by Stanley in 1830 and was located one third of the way down the cliff (at SJ 02027053), with an entrance 5m wide 2.5m high. However, reading Davies (1929, 62-4) it becomes plain that the 'Old Cave' is in fact the short cave, almost more of an extended natural arch, nearer the base of the Cefn Rocks outcrop (at SJ 02037049), through which the route from Denbigh to Kinmel once passed. This was apparently first described by Leland in the 16th century, the distinction between 'Old' and 'New' being made by Stanley when he visited both in 1830. Stanley reported human and animal bones and stags horns together with 'the remains of ancient weapons' from the lower cave, but whether this refers to PRN 102135 or PRN 102136 is uncertain. The presence of the site is also alluded to by Pennant in the 18th century (Pennant 1991, 22).
The original HER record for PRN 102135 has an appropriate description, as follows: 'Cave at foot of cliff. A natural tunnel 3m wide, 3.5m high at south end. The tunnel expands to form a chamber with two blocked off caves in the east and north faces. Human and animal bone and flint flakes found by Stanley 1873 (Prn 39956).'
Despite some excavation, probably in the 19th century, the precise amount of which is unclear, there appear to be plenty of undisturbed deposits which may be of archaeological interest, including the talus slopes leading down from the entrances. The passage is a fossil remnant of a former underground course of the River Elwy, left behind by the continued downcutting of the gorge. The complex is used by the nearby outdoor centre, but this may be a benefit as it deters any random digging activity. (Caves Scheduling Enhancement Project, CPAT site visit 11/2/2009)

Ebbs (, accessed February 2015) provides the following description of the cave and its history:
The cave can be found above field level, some 20m below Cefn Cave. It lies in the wall of a 20m long large natural arch (10m high x 2.5m wide), through which the old St.Asaph to Denbigh road once passed. Bones 'of a great age' were first reported here in 1801 by Richard Fenton (in his diary of 1808). He also describes a "chamber to the left, shews a most stupendous and picturesque roof". Reverend Edward Stanley carried out the first excavation in 1833, naming it 'Cefn Cave'. This later led to confusion after the discovery of archaeological remains in the larger cave above. To rectify this, the cave is now referred to by the National Museum of Wales as Old Cefn Cave. Source: Neanderthals in Wales (2012).
(Hankinson, 2015)

Sources :
Campbell, J B , 1977 , Upper Palaeolithic Britain 2
Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust , 2009 , Site visit record - PRN 102136 ( © )
Davies, E , 1929 , The Prehistoric and Roman remains of Denbighshire
Fisher, J , ???? , The discovery of Cefn caves
Hankinson, R , 2015 , Caves of North-East Wales: Archaeological Assessment 2014-15 ( © CPAT)
Ordnance Survey , 1963 , OS record card SJ 07 SW 17
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales , 1914 , Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire - IV County of Denbigh
Stanley, E , 1833 , Memoir on a cave at Cefn in Denbighshire , Edinburgh New Philisophical Journal : 14 : 40-3

Events :
113485 : Caves, assessment project 2009 (year : 2009)
132573 : Caves Scheduling Enhancement Programme follow up 2014-17 (year : 2014-17)
130439 : Caves Scheduling Enhancement Programme follow up, desk based assessment 2014-15 (year : 2014-15)

Related PRNs : 19306

Compiled date : 31-12-1982

Images :

Archaeological data, from the Historic Environment Record, supplied by The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in partnership with Local Authorities, Cadw and the partners of ENDEX © CPAT, 2019 (and in part © Crown, 2019). It is intended to be used for private research only and is not for use as part of commercial projects. If you wish to use this information for publication in printed or multimedia form or to compile resources for commercial use, prior permission must be obtained in writing. Use of this information is subject to the terms and conditions of access to HER data published on CPAT's website. Please contact the HER if you have any further questions regarding this information. Please quote the Primary Reference Numbers (PRNs) in any correspondence.

March 25, 2019, 3:32 am - File produced for Archwilio from CPAT's Regional HER.
Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys SY21 7RR.
tel (01938) 553670, fax (01938) 552179, website

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