In Gough's Cave in the Cheddar Gorge is a site that shows us our
cave-dwelling prehistoric ancestors.
12,000 years ago humans lived in this area, and some of their bones have
survived. But these bones seem to tell a rather gristly story of death,
dismemberment and even cannibalism.
bones have been found in pockets along the cave walls. This would have been a good place
to live because the inhabitants would have had a fairly dry place that would make a good
camp, and where they would have a good food supply from the land immediately outside. The
Gorge would have channelled animals such as horse and red deer quite close to the caves,
and this would have been a good position to set up ambushes to trap the game as it went
Looking at the stone tools and the working of the bone and ivory, it can be understood
that these people were very sophisticated hunter-gatherers. They would have used the caves
on a long term basis rather than just as a temporary stopover.
It also had some possible greater significance. Some of the objects
found there are very unusual ones. There was found a piece of rib that had
been cut and shaped with a series of notches along the edge of the bone that
makes it seem to be some kind of counting device, or even a basic calendar,
which suggests that the cave site was important to the people there. This
leads to the conclusion that there could have been some kind of ritual
activity taking place.
Human bones have been found, and they were in a strange condition. Many of
them had marks on them which were made by stone tools, found to occur on the edge of the
chin, on the side of the head at the jaw, and on the back of the neck, along the
vertebrae. The marks are just the same as marks found on animal bones.