In 1975, a caver friend (Ted Carr from Wavertree) was wandering in Loggerheads Country Park looking for ‘new’ caves to discover. In the woods near the famous boundary stone he noticed a small rock-shelter. Two weeks later a few of us were shown the cave, and after pulling a few leaves and earth away from the entrance we found a number of human bones and teeth, recognising them as being ancient. We immediately showed the finds to caver-archaeologist Mel Davies (photo 1), who confirmed them as human and of great age. As human remains had been found, the coroner had to be informed and was given the finds. After a frustrating delay of several weeks, the bones were released after agreeing that they were of considerable age and not therefore of interest to police.
The first full excavation was carried out four months later, with Mel directing. We rapidly found many more bones, heavily interlaced with fine plant roots, lying close to the surface in heavily disturbed earth. We filled two buckets with bones in just four hours. Many were long bones such as femur, tibia, fibula, humerus etc.. The earth was sieved, and this revealed the smaller remains such a teeth, skull fragments, and bones of feet and hands. I recently gave a small selection of these to Loggerheads Country Park, one of which is a dog humerus showing numerous cut marks, suggesting butchery may have taken place at the cave (photo 2).
Altogether, five one-day excavations were carried out over four seasons producing a total of 3kg of human remains, part of a flint arrowhead and 7kg of animal bones. Over several months, the finds were carefully cleaned, dried, numbered and identified. Results showed the remains to be of three humans, thought by Mel at the time to be of Neolithic age. Some areas were left unexcavated for future archaeologists.
I looked after the finds for a few years until the 1980s, when Stephen Green of the National Museum, Cardiff asked “May I come and take a look at your bones?” He took away the bulk of the collection and they have not been seen since. They lie in the museum stores unseen by the public for 40 years. No photographs of them exist and despite numerous attempts, the museum has been unwilling to allow them to be photographed without unreasonable conditions.
The cave was re-examined in 2016 as part of a project by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (commissioned by CADW) to assess the potential of several North Wales caves. This included C14 dating which confirmed a Neolithic age for the bones of around 4,400 years.
Although only a fragment of the cave remains, it is likely that it extended further out from the entrance, but has since been eroded by glacial action.