Bones found in cave are around 3,500 years old

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HUMAN remains dating back 3,500 years have been discovered in a cavern in the Peak District.

Part of a shin bone belonging to a Bronze Age human was found in a chamber towards the top of Blue John Cavern in Castleton by a group surveying all the Castleton caves as part of a project to produce a 3D model.

They found the four-inch section of tibia, along with an antler and a dog’s skull.

Specialist carbon dating tests have revealed the human bone is around 3,500 years old.

Dave Nixon, aged 44, of Tideswell, who was among the group which made the find, has spent the last 25 years exploring the caves and making a number of discoveries.

But he said he was delighted to have found the artefacts in a new section of the cavern they had not been into before.

“Exploring the caves is an obsession of mine and we have found various bits and pieces over the years,” he told The Star.

“When we found these artefacts we had just found a new bit of cave, and were digging around and found them right at the back. It is fascinating to think what would have been happening here 3,500 years ago.

“People would not have been living in Blue John Cavern but at that time, but there are areas close by where cave-dwelling was a common thing.

“I think that over the years the bones will have been washed into the cavern.

“It is really exciting to think that, even in somewhere visited by so many people over the years, you could be just 50m away from something like this - that’s what is so interesting about caving.”

Graham Ollerenshaw, who owns Blue John Cavern, said: “It’s quite astonishing to have found these bones and the antler that were high up in the top of one of the chambers for about 3,000 years.

“Mr Nixon seems to think that, after the animal and human died, they were washed into the cavern from the outside, which is only several feet below the surface at the point at which they were found.

“Dave stumbled across them quite by accident while excavating. Had he not done so they may have laid there forever and not been seen. Obviously, over a great length of time the landscape will have changed outside the cavern, and one can only surmise what happened.

“But when they were alive they must have passed by or lived close by. I can only speculate as to what else we might find in the future - it’s quite exciting.”

The artefacts are expected to go on public display in the spring.