Reliquiæ Diluvianæ by William Buckland

Reliquiæ Diluvianæ by William Buckland is in Prehistory.

Reliquiæ Diluvianæ by William Buckland, or Observations on the organic remains contained in caves, fissures, and diluvial gravel, and on other geological phenomena, attesting the action of an universal deluge by William Buckland published in 1824.

Reliquiæ Diluvianæ 7 Cave of Paviland

The seventh and last case that has occurred in this country is that of another discovery recently made on the coast of Glamorganshire, fifteen miles west of Swansea, between Oxwich Bay and the Worms Head, on the property of C. M. Talbot, Esq. It consists of two large caves facing the sea, in the front of a lofty cliff of limestone, which rises more than 100 feet perpendicularly above the mouth of the caves, and below them slopes at an angle of about 40° to the water's , edge, presenting a bluff and rugged shore to the waves, which are very violent along this north coast of the estuary of the Severn. These caves are altogether invisible from the land side, and are accessible only at low water, except by dangerous climbing along the face of a nearly precipitous cliff, composed entirely of compact mountain limestone, which dips north at an angle of about 45°. One of them only (called Goats Hole [Map]) had been noticed when I arrived there, and I shall describe it first, before I proceed to speak of the other. Its existence had been long known to the farmers of the adjacent lands, as well as the fact of its containing large bones, but it had been no farther attended to till last summer, when it was explored by the surgeon and curate of the nearest village, Port Inon, who discovered in it two molar teeth of elephant, and a portion of a large curved tusk, which latter they buried again in the earth, where it remained till it was extracted a second time, on a further examination of the cave in the and of December last by L. W. Dillwyn, Esq. and Miss Talbot, and removed to Penrice Castle, together with a large part of the skull to which it had belonged, and several baskets full of other teeth and bones. On the news of this further discovery being communicated to me, I went immediately from Derbyshire to Wales, and found the position of the cave to be such as I have above described; and its floor at the mouth to be from 30 to 40 feet above high-water mark, so that the waves of the highest storms occasionally dash into it, and have produced three or four deep rock basins in its very threshold, by the rolling on their axis of large stones, which still lie at the bottom of these basins (see Plate XXI. h h.); around their edge, and in the outer part of the cave itself, are strewed a considerable number of sea pebbles, resting on the native limestone rock. The floor of the cave ascends rapidly from its mouth inwards to the furthest extremity (see Plate XXI. and description), so that the pebbles have not been drifted in beyond twenty feet, or about one-third of its whole length; in the remaining two-thirds no disturbance by the waters of the present sea appears ever to have taken place, and within this point at which the pebbles cease, the floor is covered with a mass of diluvial loam of a reddish yellow colour, abundantly mixed with angular fragments of limestone and broken calcareous spar, and interspersed with recent sea-shells, and with teeth and bones of the following animals, viz. elephant, rhinoceros, bear, hyaena, wolf, fox, horse, ox, deer of two or three species, water-rats, sheep, birds, and man. I found also fragments of charcoal, and a small flint, the edges of which had been chipped off', as if by striking a light. I subjoin a list of the most remarkable of the animal remains, most of which are preserved in the collection at Penrice Castle, and the Museum at Oxford.

Elephant. Head broken into numerous fragments, the sockets of the tusks being nearly entire, and six inches in diameter, and very long.

One large portion of tusk, nearly two feet long, and five inches and a half in diameter.

One large portion of diseased tusk, and many very small fragments of decayed ivory.

Two molar teeth entire, fragments of two others.

Part of the epiphysis of the humerus.

Large fragments of the ribs.

Splinters of large cylindrical bones of the legs.

Rhinoceros. A tooth resembling the incisor of the upper jaw.

One fragment of upper molar tooth.

One large bone of the carpus.

Two phalangal bones of the toe.

Horse. Many teeth and fragments of bones.

Hog. One upper incisor, apparently modern.

Bear. Many molar teeth, two large canine ditto.

One fragment of lower jaw, and the anterior portion or chin part of two other lower jaws firmly anchelosed, and exhibiting the sockets of the incisor teeth and of both tusks; the latter are more than three inches deep, and equal in size to the largest from the caves of Germany.

One humerus, of the same large size, nearly entire.

Many vertebrae, equally large.

Two ossa calcis, and many large bones of the metacarpus and metatarsus.

Hyaena. Lower extremity of the left humerus.

Fox. Lower extremity of the femur.

Wolf. One lower jaw.

One os calcis.

Several metacarpal bones.

Ox. Many teeth.

Two lumbar vertebrae.

One femur, and many entire bones of the foot, and fragments of larger bones.

Deer. One skull, large as the red deer, but of a different species.

Fragments of various horns, some small, others a little palmated, one approaching to that of the roe.

Many teeth, and fragments of bones.

Bat. One skeleton, nearly entire, of a small water-rat, or

Large field-mouse, probably postdiluvian.

Birds. Single bones of small birds, all recent.

Man. Portion of a female skeleton, clearly postdiluvian.

Fragments of many recent bones of ox and sheep, apparently the remains of human food.

The entire mass through which the bones are dispersed appears to have been disturbed by ancient diggings, and its antediluvian remains thereby to have become mixed with recent bones and shells; the latter of which Mr. Dillwyn has examined, and refers to the following species: buccinum undatum, turbo littoreus, patella vulgata, trochus crassus, nerita littoralis; these are all common on the adjacent shore, and the animals that inhabit them are all eatable. That portion of the diluvial mass which lies on the east side of the cave (see Plate XXI. f.) adheres together in a loose breccia, and has been less disturbed than the rest, which it overhangs with a cliff about five feet high, and extending inwards from F to the interior extremity of the cave B, where it enters into and covers the floor of the small hole that terminates the cave. At the point B the recent shells and bones of birds are most abundant, and the earthy mass containing them is cemented to a firm breccia by stalagmite; and this is almost the only point within the cave at which any stalagmite or stalactite occurs. The two elephants' teeth were found in the small cliff F, at a distance from the head and tusk, which lay close together in the loose earth E, at the spot represented in the drawing. The anterior part of the skull, and the sockets of both the tusks, were found nearly entire, but have been much broken by removal. They were but slightly covered with earth, and very tender; the portion of tusk also, being about two feet long, is so much decayed that the whole of its interior has crumbled to small angular fragments, so soft as to be cut by the nail, whilst the outer laminae alone remain entire, and in the form of a hollow shell, which is preserved at Penrice; so also are the fragments that composed great part of the entire skull, and were broken in extracting them; and another portion of ivory, in which has been formed an irregular cavity, about two inches in diameter, similar to those produced by ossific inflammation in recent ivory by gun-shot wounds, and encircled with concentric laminae of bony matter, placed obliquely to the grain of the ivory: it is probably the effect of a blow or puncture received whilst this part of the tusk was yet in its pulpy state, and within the socket. No large bones of the skeleton have as yet been discovered entire; they seem to have been destroyed and broken to pieces by repeated diggings. The other ancient bones also have been much broken, and appear generally in the state of fragments dispersed irregularly through the earthy matrix, together with ancient teeth, and fragments of horns, and with the modern bones and recent shells above enumerated. None of these remains have any marks of having been gnawed or rolled, nor have the fragments of limestone, and of calcareous spar that occur with them, lost much of their angles. Among the horns I noticed the base of two that are separate from the skull, and appear to have been cast off by necrosis; and among the bones was the entire skull of a deer, from which the horns had been broken off by violence. In the centre of the cave, and about two feet deep, I found under and amongst the broken bones of elephant, bear, and other extinct animals, a portion of the scapula apparently of a sheep, which had been smoothly cut across as if by a butcher's saw; and, from its state of preservation, was decidedly not antediluvian. This mixture of ancient and comparatively modern bones must have arisen from repeated diggings in the bottom of the cave.

In another part (see Plate XXI.) I discovered beneath a shallow covering of six inches of earth nearly the entire left side of a human female skeleton. The skull and vertebras, and extremities of the right side were wanting; the remaining parts lay extended in the usual position of burial, and in their natural order of contact, and consisted of the humerus, radius, and ulna of the left arm, the hand being wanting; the left leg and foot entire to the extremity of the toes, part of the right foot, the pelvis, and many ribs; in the middle of the bones of the ancle was a small quantity of yellow wax-like substance resembling adipocere. All these bones appeared not to have been disturbed by the previous operations (whatever they were) that had removed the other parts of the skeleton. They were all of them stained superficially with a dark brick-red colour, and enveloped by a coating of a kind of ruddle, composed of red micaceous oxyde of iron, which stained the earth, and in some parts extended itself to the distance of about half an inch around the surface of the bones. The body must have been entirely surrounded or covered over at the time of its interment with this red substance. Close to that part of the thigh bone where the pocket is usually worn, I found laid together, and surrounded also by ruddle, about two handsfull of small shells of the nerita littoralis in a state of great decay, and falling to dust on the slightest pressure. At another part of the skeleton, viz. in contact with the ribs, I found forty or fifty fragments of small ivory rods nearly cylindrical, and varying in diameter from a quarter to three quarters of an inch, and from one to four inches in length. Their external surface was smooth in a few which were least decayed; but the greater number had undergone the same degree of decomposition with the large fragments of tusk before mentioned; most of them were also split transversely by recent fracture in digging them out, so that there are no means of knowing what was their original length, as I found none in which both extremities were unbroken; many of them also are split longitudinally by the separation of their laminae, which are evidently the laminae of the large tusk, from a portion of which they have been made. The surfaces exposed by this splitting, as well as the outer circumference where it was smooth, were covered with small clusters of minute and extremely delicate dendrites1; so also was the circumference of some small fragments of rings made of the same ivory, and found with the rods, being nearly of the size and shape of segments of a small teacup handle; the rings when complete were probably four or five inches in diameter. Both rods and rings, as well as the nerite shells, were stained superficially with red, and lay in the same red substance that enveloped the bones; they had evidently been buried at the same time with the woman. In another place were found three fragments of the same ivory, which had been cut into unmeaning forms by a rough edged instrument, probably a coarse knife, the marks of which remain on all their surfaces. One of these fragments is nearly of the shape and size of a human tongue, and its surface is smooth as if it had been applied to some use in which it became polished; its surface also is covered with dendrites like that of the rods: there was found also a rude instrument, resembling a short skewer or chop-stick, and made of the metacarpal bone of a wolf, sharp and flattened to an edge at one end, and terminated at the other by the natural rounded condyle of the bone, which the person who cut it had probably extracted, as well as the ivory tusk, from the diluvial detritus within the cave. No metallic instruments have as yet been discovered amongst these remains, which, though clearly not coeval with the antediluvian bones of the extinct species, appear to have lain there many centuries.

Note 1. A superficial stain of oxyde of iron, assuming the form of branches of trees, or extremely delicate moss; hut almost invisibly minute.

The charcoal and fragments of recent bone that are apparently the remains of human food, render it probable that this exposed and solitary cave has at some time or other been the scene of human habitation, if to no other persons, at least to the woman whose bones I have been describing. The ivory rods and rings, and tongue-shaped fragment, are certainly made from part of the antediluvian tusks that lay in the same cave; and as they must have been cut to their present shape at a time when the ivory was hard, and not crumbling to pieces as it is at present on the slightest touch, we may from this circumstance assume to them a very high antiquity, which is further confirmed by the decayed state of the shells that lay in contact with the thigh bone, and, like the rods and rings, must have been buried with the woman. The wolf's toe bone also was probably reduced to its present form, and used by her as a pin or skewer, the immediate neighbourhood being wholly destitute of wood.

The circumstance of the remains of a British camp existing on the hill immediately above this cave, seems to throw much light on the character and date of the woman under consideration; and what ever may have been her occupation, the vicinity of a camp would afford a motive for residence, as well as the means of subsistence, in what is now so exposed and uninviting a solitude. The fragments of charcoal, and recent bones of oxen, sheep, and pigs, are probably the remains of culinary operations; the larger shells may have been collected also for food from the adjacent shore, and the small nerite shells either have been kept in the pocket for the beauty of their yellow colour, or have been used, as I am informed by the Rev. Henry Knight, of Newton Nottage, they now are in that part of Glamorganshire, in some simple species of game. The ivory rods also may have either been applicable to some game, as we use chess men or pins on a cribbage-board; or they may be fragments of pins, such as Sir Richard Hoare has found in the barrows of Wilts and Dorset, together with large bodkins also of ivory, and which were probably used to fasten together the coarse garments of the ancient Britons. It is a curious coincidence also, that he has found in a barrow near Warminster, at Cop Head Hill, the shell of a nerite, and some ivory beads, which were laid by the skeletons of an infant and an adult female, apparently its mother1.

Note 1. A long and rude shaped pin made of bone, of very high antiquity, being of the size and length of a large wooden skewer, and very similar to the smaller fragments of ivory from Paviland, has recently been found on Foxcomb hill, near Oxford; and my friend the Rev. J. J. Conybeare has discovered a bone bodkin, nearly of the same size, among the remains of the British or Belgic settlements which he has lately been tracing out with great success on the flat summits called Charmy Down, Banner Down, Salisbury, and Claverton Down, in the immediate neighbourhood of Bath.

That ivory rings were at that time used as armlets, is probable from the circumstance of similar rings having also been found by Sir Richard Hoare in these same barrows; and from a passage in Strabo, lib. 4, which Mr. Knight has pointed out to me, in which, speaking of the small taxes which it was possible to levy on the Britons, he specifies their imports to be very insignificant, consisting chiefly of ivory armlets and necklaces, Ligurian stones, glass vessels, and other such like trifles. The custom of burying with their possessors the ornaments and chief utensils of the deceased, is evident from the remains of this kind discovered every where in the ancient barrows; and this may explain the circumstance of our finding with the bones of the woman at Paviland the ivory rods, and rings, and nerite shells, which she had probably made use of during life. I am at a loss to conjecture what could have been the object of collecting the red oxyde of iron that seems to have been thrown over the body when laid in the grave: it is a substance, however, which occurs abundantly in the limestone rocks of the neighbourhood.

The disturbed state of the diluvial earth all over the bottom of the cave, and fractured condition of the ancient bones, may have been produced by digging in search of more ivory, or to gratify the curiosity which the discovery of such large and numerous remains must naturally have excited; and in the course of these diggings the antediluvian bones would become mixed with those of modern animals which had been introduced for food. The preservation of so large a part of the elephant's tusk may probably have arisen from the use to which it was destined, and had been in part appropriated in the making of rods and rings.

From all these circumstances there is reason to conclude, that the date of these human bones is coeval with that of the military occupation of the adjacent summits, and anterior to, or coeval with, the Roman invasion of this country.

The above are the most remarkable phenomena in the interior of this cave. It remains only to describe a long cavernous aperture that rises like a crooked chimney from its roof to the nearly vertical face of the rock above: its form and diameter are throughout irregular, the latter being about twelve feet where longest, and in its narrowest part about three feet; so that it is impossible the large elephant, whose bones were found in the cave below, could have been drifted down entire through this aperture. It expands and contracts irregularly from D, its lower extremity in the roof of the cavern, to K, the point at which it terminates in the face of the cliff. (See Plate XXI.) Along this tortuous ascent are several lateral cavities, L. L. L., the bottoms of which afford a place of lodgment for a bed of brown earth about a foot thick, and derived apparently from dust driven in continually by the wind. In this earth I found the bones of various birds, of moles, water-rats, mice, and fish, and a few land shells; all these are clearly the remains of modern animals, and their presence in this almost inaccessible spot can only be explained by referring the bones of birds, moles, rats, and mice, to the agency of hawks, and the fish-bones to that of sea-gulls. The land shells are such as live at present on the rock without, and may easily have fallen in. Had there been any stalagmite uniting these bones into a breccia, they would have afforded a perfect analogy to the accumulation of modern birds' bones, by the agency of hawks, at Gibraltar; where Major Imrie describes them as forming a breccia of modern origin in fissures of the same rock which has other cavities filled with a bony breccia of more ancient date, and which I shall presently endeavour to show is of the same antediluvian origin with the older parts of the bones that occur on the floor of the cave at Paviland.

Whilst exploring this cavern, I was informed by the workmen that there was another of the same kind about a hundred yards further to the west; and proceeding to examine it, I found it to be very similar to the first, in size, form, and position, and closed on every side with solid rock, excepting the mouth, which is large and open to the sea; its body contracts gradually towards the inner extremity, and upwards also towards the roof, where it terminates in a vein, that is still filled with calcareous spar: the cave itself, in fact, seems to be merely an enlargement of this vein. There is also a similar, but longer and more narrow, aperture immediately on the east of Goats Hole, the bottom of which, being on the level of the sea, is almost perpetually under water. This east cave also is seen to terminate upwards in a vein of calcareous spar. The floor of the west cave is at its mouth about thirty feet above the sea, and more horizontal than that of Goats Hole, and being throughout within reach of the highest storm waves, is strewed over entirely, to the depth of more than a foot, with a bed of small sea pebbles. Digging through these, I found beneath them a bed of the same argillaceous loam and fragments of limestone as in the Goats Hole, and a still more abundant accumulation of animal remains. In a short time I collected two baskets' full of the teeth and bones of ox, horse, deer, and bear; and have reason to think the entire floor beneath the pebbles is covered with a continuous mass of the same diluvial earth and fragments of stones, intermixed with teeth and bones, and altogether of the same age and origin with the antediluvian part of those in Goats Hole, the near position of which renders it probable that both these caves are residuary offshoots or branches of some larger cavern, that has been cut away by the denudation which formed the present cliffs, and whose main trunk is now no more; and that by means of this main trunk they originally had communication with each other, and received at the same time the animal remains and diluvial detritus that are common to them both. Their relative position is such, that if both were prolonged towards the sea they would soon meet, and either become confluent, or intersect each other.

Reliquiæ Diluvianæ Explanation of Plates

Reliquiæ Diluvianæ Explanation of Plate 21

Vertical section of the cave of Goat Hole at Paviland [Map], in the sea cliff 15 miles west of Swansea, in Glamorganshire.

Note A. Mouth of the cave, at the base of a nearly vertical cliff, facing the sea, and accessible only at low water, except by dangerous climbing.

Note B. Inner extremity of the cave, where it becomes so small, that a dog only can go further, and apparently ending at a short distance within B.

Note C. Body of the cave. Its length from A. to B. is about 60 feet, the breadth from C. to D. (in the plan, fig. 2,) is about 20, the height of the cave from 25 to 30 feet.

Note D. (In the section) irregular chimney-like aperture, ascending from the roof of the cave, and terminating in the nearly perpendicular cliff at K.; it is too small for the entire carcase of an elephant to have passed down through it.

Note E. Bottom of the cave, to which the sea water never reaches; this part is covered over with a loose mass of argillaceous loam and fragments of limestone, of diluvial origin, about six feet deep, which has been much disturbed by ancient diggings, and through which are dispersed the bones and teeth. The elephant's head, and human skeleton, are marked in the spot in which they were actually found.

Note F. Mass of the same materials as E., but less disturbed, and overhanging E. with a small cliff, five feet high, in which were found two elephant's teeth. This mass, though less disturbed than E., has been dug over before, and extends into the small hole within B.; it contains dispersed through it, particularly near B., recent sea shells and pebbles: at this place also it is firmly united by stalagmite, which rarely occurs in any other part of the cave.

G. Loose sea pebbles, strewed in small quantity over the floor of the cave near its mouth, and washed up only by the waves of the highest storms.

H. Rock basins, three feet deep, produced by friction of the large pebbles, which still lie in them.

I. Naked limestone of the floor of the cave, forming the line within which the waves appear never to enter, and separating the sea pebbles without, from the diluvial loam and angular fragments that form the loose breccia within it.

K. Upper termination of the chimney-shaped aperture in the face of the naked cliff.