Upper Canada Cave

This includes cave in the Mendip, Devon and Portland areas

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Joined: Sat 29 Jul 2006 18:52

Upper Canada Cave

Post by axbridgecaver » Mon 26 Feb 2018 09:50

Upper Canada Cave Cryogenic Cave Calcite

Canada Combe, Hutton. NGR - ST 36027 58164

Length – 346m. Vertical Range – 35m.

Historical Background

Upper Canada Cave was opened by the ochre miners in the 1750’s and was “lost”. David Williams and William Beard search for this lost cave and it is relocated in 1828 and the adjacent Bleadon Cavern (40m apart) was also re-discovered in 1833. Many animal bones were extracted from these two caves and are now form part of The Quaternary Mammal Collections at the
Somerset County Museum, Taunton. The bones include –

mountain hare, ground squirrel, northern vole, wolf, red fox, brown bear, polecat, spotted hyaena, wild cat, lion, leopard, straight-tusked elephant, mammoth, horse, rhinoceros, wild boar, red deer, roe deer, aurochs, bison, dwarf hamster, collared lemming.

The cave was once again lost and in the 1970’s Bleadon Cavern was rediscovered along with two shafts which are part of Upper Canada Cave – these shafts were then backfilled. In 2007 Upper Canada Cave was re-discovered and in 2012 a mechanical excavator was used to open the area surrounding this cave. Digging by hand continued in the bottom of this pit revealing an arched entrance into Upper Canada Cave; in November 2012 linking Wellshaft Cave with the main cave but after another 33 digging trips removing rocks and mud from the cave passage a mechanical excavator was employed again in October 2013. This revealed another cave entrance (opposite Upper Canada Cave entrance) – Archway Cave. Another 34 digging trips connected both Maytree Cave and Primrose Cave in August 2014 to Upper Canada Cave. Many more digging visits connected the entrance passage to Junction Chamber which after much more effort connected to Watership Down – the original way into the cave for the ochre miners. In addition, in March 2015 the dig at the bottom of “The Field” “went” and Upper & Lower Glebe Passage were discovered. In May 2015 “The Paddock” was discovered after a dig though boulders, and from the Paddock in July 2015 a chamber “The Log Pile” was entered. At the junction of Upper & Lower Glebe Passages an elliptical tube was excavated, “Iron Passage”, so called as it was completely filled with Iron Ore. Digging, in several places in the cave, still continues.

Over 200 bones, mainly of horse, have been excavated from the entrance passages and one has been C14 dated (paper is awaiting publication).

At the northern end of the excavated pit is a bed of stromatolites (4m high and 3m wide) formed in Black Rock Limestone.

Trip Report

24 February 2018 – Upper Canada Cave – Tony Boycott, Alan Gray

Since access to the cave is under question due to a new landowner we thought that the cave should be examined for the presence of Cryogenic Cave Calcite (CCC’s). CCC’s form when water enters a cave and turns to ice and dating these deposits shows when ice was in the cave and also when the permafrost was thawing.

The first place examined was Upper Glebe passage on the left hand side but this was botryoidal stal.
Up though the squeeze into The Paddock and just two metres from the entrance to this chamber what we think is CCC was located. It sits loosely on a flat rock, that appears at some time in the distant past to have become detached from the roof. The deposit covers about ten square cms. and is in the form of small “popcorn” about 4mm in diameter. Surrounding this deposit are other smaller deposits and also some beneath rock falls. Six or seven small pieces of CCC were removed for analysis.


1. Only about twenty people have ever entered The Paddock.
2. The Paddock is a very dry area of the cave with several large ancient roof falls.
3. Depth below the surface of the deposit is 12.5m.
Upper Canada Cave Survey showing location of the CCC
Upper Canada Cave Survey showing location of the CCC
Upper Canada Cave Plan showing ccc.jpg (27.99 KiB) Viewed 4750 times
P2241906 small.JPG (176.23 KiB) Viewed 4750 times
CCC close up
CCC close up
P2241902 small.JPG (162.27 KiB) Viewed 4750 times
CCC + Scale
CCC + Scale
P2241900 small.JPG (182.8 KiB) Viewed 4750 times
Tony Boycott sat next to the boulder with the CCC
Tony Boycott sat next to the boulder with the CCC
P2241908 small.JPG (132.2 KiB) Viewed 4750 times

Posts: 47
Joined: Tue 03 May 2011 10:16

Re: Upper Canada Cave

Post by Gina » Tue 27 Feb 2018 17:02

Great find! I'm looking forward to seeing these CCCs :-)

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