Aveline's Hole

Aveline's Hole is a cave at Burrington Combe in the limestone of the Mendip Hills, in Somerset, England.

Aveline's Hole
Aveline's Hole
LocationMendip Hills, Somerset, England
Coordinates51°19′29″N 2°45′12″W[1]
Depth16 m (52 ft)
Length68 m (223 ft)
Elevation99 m (325 ft)
Cave surveyMendip Cave Registry & Archive (1968)

The earliest scientifically dated cemetery in Britain, 10,200 and 10,400 years old, was found at Aveline's Hole, constituting the largest assemblage of Mesolithic human remains found in Britain.[2] [3]Much of the collection has been lost due to pillaging, poorly recorded investigation and war, and although more than fifty individuals are represented, there are only two complete skeletons. Perforated animal teeth, red ochre and seven pieces of fossil ammonite, suggest that some of the bodies were adorned.[4]

A series of inscribed crosses found on the wall of the Aveline's Hole cave are believed to date from the early Mesolithic period just after the Ice Age.[5] The pattern is said to be comparable with others known from Northern France, Germany and Denmark. A gate has been installed in the cave to protect the engraving, after consultations between English Heritage and other interested parties, including the landowner and English Nature.

The cave was rediscovered in 1797 by two men digging for a rabbit.[6] The cave was excavated and the entrance enlarged in 1860 by William Boyd Dawkins who named it after his mentor William Talbot Aveline.[7]

Access to the cave is controlled by the University of Bristol Spelæological Society and is restricted during the bat hibernation season.

See also


  1. Mendip Cave Registry & Archive (1968)
  2. "Earliest British cemetery dated". BBC. 2003-09-23. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  3. Mullan, G (2019). "Aveline's Hole:a place for the dead". British Archaeology (168): 24–25.
  4. Cunliffe, Barry (2012). Britain Begins. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-19-960933-8.
  5. "Aveline's Hole Discovery". University of Bristol Spelaeological Society. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  6. Johnson, Peter (1967). The History of Mendip Caving. Newton Abbot: David & Charles.
  7. Witcombe, Richard (2009). Who was Aveline anyway?: Mendip's Cave Names Explained (2nd ed.). Priddy: Wessex Cave Club. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-9500433-6-4.
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