Friday, 16 December 2011

Cefn Cave, Cefn Meiriadog. 15.12.11.

It was one of those experiences that will stay with me for ever, an opportunity to visit the cave at Cefn, the cave visited by Charles Darwin and possibly also Adam Sedgwick during their journey through North Wales during the month of August 1831.

We were here with Cwmni Da (S4C) filming an eitem on Darwin's tour for a programme called "Darn Bach o Hanes" to be broadcast in the New Year (2012). I had been invited to present the item, for which, to paraphrase Darwin's words "I will never cease to be thankful".  This is not a site that is open to the public  and therefore the presenting job provided me with a rare opportunity to visit the cave and to do so in the company of local historian Meuric Lloyd Davies.

Meuric in fact, I had met a week earlier when I attended the St Asaph Archaeology Society Christmas Party, and it was so interesting to hear Meuric's stories of visiting and exploring the cave during their childhood years - what a playground and what a brilliant place to explore, if a little dangerous of course with high cliffs etc.

The Cave itself is a SSSI, we saw bats inside the cave and also sadly many recent "archaeological remains", ranging from beer bottles to candles and some very modern cave paintings - some time in the future there will be archaeologists talking about "ritual activity" in the C21st at the Cave - a multi period site indeed !

The one thing that struck me was the length of this limestone cave and the Victorian period steps - either rock cut or stone built steps leading to two other entrancaes to the caves. As the old photographs show this must have been a popular destination for Victorian Visitors / tourists and an ideal picnic spot looking down on the River Elwy.

During the filming we talked about Darwin's discoveries here - at a time when finds were still scattered on the floor of the cave and also the implications of all this - the very fact that "the facts" as presented by  Book of Genesis would now come under the microscope - made these pioneers of geology, archaeology and eventually via Darwins publication "On The Origin of Species" in 1859 - brave men indeed - heretics almost and it was so sad in a way to read out Sedgwick's letter to his former student as the closing piece of the eitem 
"I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous.”

S4C filming

Rhys Mwyn inside near Vicorian steps

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