In-depth look at famous Dales cave aims to unearth rich history of region

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A CAVE discovered by chance 175 years ago has provided a fascinating snapshot of life over thousands of years in the Yorkshire Dales.

Victoria Cave, near Settle, was found in 1837 and major excavations were then carried out throughout the 19th century, unearthing animal bones dating back 130,000 years and evidence that the site was used as a shrine by the Romans.

The thick clay deposits in the cave are still providing scientists with an amazing record of climate change across the Dales over hundreds of thousands of years.

The cave is considered to be so important that it has been classified as a scheduled monument and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

An exhibition charting the fascinating history of Victoria Cave will be launched this week at the Museum of North Craven Life in the Grade I listed Folly in Settle.

The exhibition, called Victoria Cave Revisited, features 10 panels – including one illustrating the work of the Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation – and some of the artefacts found at the site.

It will be opened tomorrow by Coun Carl Lis, the chairman of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which owns the cave.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s senior historic environment officer, Robert White, said: “As well as showcasing some of these finds, the exhibition illustrates the continuing significance of the cave.

“In the 19th century it attracted influential academics and explorers and triggered a lively interest in archaeology among the townspeople.”

The exhibition will run until October 28, and is part of a wider project called Geo Dales.

The initiative aims to draw the maximum benefit from diversity of the environments in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Work within the national park includes developing a new geological trail between Winskill Stones-Victoria Cave and Attermire Scars near Langcliffe. The project also involves conservation and management work at Victoria Cave and Winskill Stones.

Tom Lord, whose grandfather rescued much of the Victorian archive and finds, will also give a talk, Victoria Cave: a Neglected Monument of Victorian Science, on Saturday, July 14.

Tickets can be purchased in advance from The Folly or by calling 01729 822893.

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