Thor's Cave

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Thor's Cave
Thyrsis's Cavern[1]
Thor's cave.jpg
Thor's Cave from the Manifold Way
LocationManifold Valley, Staffordshire
Length150 feet (46 m)[1]
Elevation870 feet (265 m)[1]
DifficultyGrade I[note 1][1]
View from inside Thor's Cave

Thor's Cave (also known as Thor's House Cavern and Thyrsis's Cave) is a natural cavern located at SK09865496 in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire, England. It is classified as a karst cave. Located in a steep limestone crag, the cave entrance, a symmetrical arch 7.5 metres wide and 10 metres high, is prominently visible from the valley bottom, around 80 metres (260 feet) below. Reached by an easy stepped path from the Manifold Way, the cave is a popular tourist spot, with views over the Manifold Valley. The second entrance is known as the "West Window", below which is a second cave, Thor's Fissure Cavern.[1]

Thor's Cave was served by a railway station on the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway from 1904 to 1934; the disused line now forms the Manifold Way.


The origin of the name is uncertain, possibly from the word "tor". Links with the Norse god Thor and the Germanic paganism of the early Anglo-Saxons in general have been suggested, but evidence is lacking. Other hypotheses have included lost ancient dialectal terms, and obscure English saints.

Human habitation[edit]

Excavations in 1864–65 and 1927–35 found human and animal remains, stone tools, pottery, amber beads, and bronze items within Thor's Cave and the adjacent Thor's Fissure Cavern. The caves are estimated to have contained the burial sites of at least seven people.[2] The finds suggest the cavern was occupied from the end of the Palaeolithic period, with more intensive use during the Iron Age and Roman periods.

Rock climbing[edit]

Thor's Cave has been used by rock climbers since explorations in the early 1950s by Joe Brown and others. Eleven limestone routes are listed by the BMC, ranging in grade from Very Severe to E7, and several more have been claimed since guidebook publication; a few routes are bolted.[3]

Media use[edit]

The cave was used to represent the entrance to the Dark Wizard's lair in the 1980 film Hawk the Slayer, directed by Terry Marcel,[citation needed] and was a location in The Lair of the White Worm (1988), directed by Ken Russell and starring Hugh Grant.[4]

It was used in the filming of The Verve's 1993 video for their single "Blue",[citation needed] and is also pictured on the front cover of the band's first album, A Storm in Heaven.[5] The cave also acts as the backdrop for Winterfylleth's band photo for their 2020 album The Reckoning Dawn.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grade I: Easy caves. No pitches or other difficulties.


  1. ^ a b c d e Barker, Iain; Beck, John S. (2010). Caves of the Peak District (7th ed.). Derbyshire Caving Association. ISBN 978-0-9563473-2-9.
  2. ^ Chamberlain, Andrew T.; Williams, Jim P. (June 2001). A Gazetteer of English Caves, Fissures, and Rock Shelters Containing Human Remains. CAPRA (Cave archaeology and palaeontology research archive). Dept. of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  3. ^ Browell, M. (1987). Peak Limestone – South. British Mountaineering Council. ISBN 0-903908-26-3.
  4. ^ "Where was 'The Lair of the White Worm' filmed?". British Film Locations. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  5. ^ "The Shining Path". Select. March 1998. p. 77. Retrieved 28 October 2021.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°05′30″N 1°51′15″W / 53.09176°N 1.85422°W / 53.09176; -1.85422