Enjoy a 360 virtual tour of Ash Hole Cavern used by animals and humans dating back to neolithic times completely open to the public and hiding in plain sight
I’ve known about this cavern for years, but just never found the time to come check it out until now. To be honest it’s a little underwhelming. To the left looking at the large hole is a pile of earth which leads to a smaller entrance, this is actually the natural entrance to the cave, before quarrying opening the now larger entrance. You can walk up and around on top of the cave where there are fairly good views out over the Berry Head Hotel. Back in the cave looking straight ahead there is a small hole leading down to what just looks like a pile of loose rock, however i’ve since learnt that this may open up to allow you to go further into the cave. To the right the deepest darkest part of the cave there is a large pile of cave earth leading up to another opening. This was muddy and slippery and i didn’t really have the right gear, so I only climbed half way and thought better of it. From there I could see some bats on the roof as I shined the torch around.
There are obvious places where the cavern is used for climbing, especially just inside the natural entrance where there are a fair few ropes and bolts left in the roof. It seemed to me that there were a number of different routes to climb inside and outside the cave.
Unfortunately it does seem this place has been forgotten, left to nature and could do with some TLC, especially considering it’s listed as a scheduled monument.
- The large opening is actually a forced breach from 19th century quarrying creating a large artificial entry into the chamber wall which now provides the more usual route into the cave system. The original entrance lies at the base of a naturally formed sinkhole east of the main cave chamber where deposits containing Bronze Age pottery have been excavated just within the entrance.
- It was named Ash Hole – meaning a receptacle for the ashes of the dead. It was once used as a sepulchre, as proven by a 20ft deep shaft full of human skeletons, charcoal, ash, and broken Roman urns.
- There is evidence of human habitation since It was discovered that the cave had also been occupied in Neolithic, Iron Age, and Roman times.
- Archaeological excavations have been conducted, two have been recorded, one in the 19th Century and one in the 20th Century with several artefacts found.
- It has been a scheduled monument since 1966.
- Apart from the large main chamber, there are several smaller chambers, which extend downwards into the rock. One has a large quantity of loose rock within it, and this chamber also extends upwards to a smaller chamber, underneath which a ladder helps gain access.
There is evidence that the cave has been used for shelter by humans since the Bronze Age. There is also evidence of Roman burials. Several fragments of urns have been found, in which were ashes and around those bone fragments have been found. These have been dated to be from Roman times, though no single urn was found intact what remained of the shards were preserved. Also found were several Roman coins including those of Claudius and Nero which were discovered in 1831.
Ash Hole Cavern is reached by a short 50 metre walk from the Berry Head Road, through an area of woodland and undergrowth opposite Shoalstone car park.
- Car, the car park next to the pool is a pay & display with number plate recognition camera. You have 30 minutes free from upon entry of the car park to exit. Free parking is tricky, you might be lucky in Berry Head Road or nearby Wall Park Road, though this this at the top of the hill.
- Bus, There is a local bus service, Bus no.17.
- Walk, The South West Coastal Path runs directly past the roadside entrance.
- If you park in the car park you have 30 minutes short stay free parking from upon entry of the car park to exit.
- Free parking is tricky, you might be lucky in Berry Head Road or nearby Wall Park Road, though this is at the top of the hill.
- Dogs are allowed all year.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?