Read's Cavern

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Read's Cavern
Map showing the location of Read's Cavern
Map showing the location of Read's Cavern
Location Burrington Combe, Somerset, UK
OS grid ST 4682 5844
Coordinates 51°19′21″N 2°45′52″W / 51.3226°N 2.7645°W / 51.3226; -2.7645Coordinates: 51°19′21″N 2°45′52″W / 51.3226°N 2.7645°W / 51.3226; -2.7645
Depth 66 metres (217 ft)
Length 579 metres (1,900 ft)
Elevation 151 metres (495 ft)
Discovery 13 1919 UBSS
Geology Limestone
Entrances 2
Access Free
BRAC grade DC
Registry Mendip Cave Registry[1]

Read's Cavern is a cave at Burrington Combe, Somerset, England, in which traces of Iron Age occupation have been found. It lies under Dolbury Hill. Its large main chamber has a boulder ruckle floor and is parallel to a cliff face. The cave was excavated by the University of Bristol Spelæological Society (UBSS) in the 1920s, when relics of Iron Age occupation were found.[2]

The UBSS excavation followed the removal of 21 tonnes of limestone material below a cliff where a stream sinks.[3] Among the finds were ironwork described as slave shackles.[4]

After its discovery, the cave was first known as Keltic or Celtic Cavern until the Ordnance Survey decided that it should be known as Read's Cavern, after Mr. R. F. Read, the discoverer.[5] It has also been called "Gough's Cave".[6]


  1. ^ "Read's Cavern". Mendip Cave Registry & Archive. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  2. ^ Barrington, Nicholas; Stanton, William (1977). Mendip: The complete caves. Cheddar: Cheddar Valley Press. ISBN 978-0-9501459-1-4. 
  3. ^ L.S. Palmer (1920). "The Keltic Cavern (Read's Cavern)". UBSS Proceedings. UBSS. 1 (1): 9–20. 
  4. ^ Palmer, Lionel Stanley (1959). Man's journey through time: a first step in physical and cultural anthropochronology, p. 77 (Figure 31: Iron slave shackles from Read's Cavern, Somerset)
  5. ^ L.S. Palmer (1921). "Second report on the Keltic Cavern (Read's Cavern)". 1 (2). UBSS: 87–91. 
  6. ^ Neff, Hector (1992). Chemical characterization of ceramic pastes in archaeology, p. 282: "Gough's Cave or Read's Cavern"