University of Bristol Spelæological Society

Charterhouse Warren Farm Swallet, Mendip Somerset: Radiocarbon dating evidence (UBSS Proceedings v.18(3))

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Levitan,B.M., and Smart,P.L., 1989. Charterhouse Warren Farm Swallet, Mendip Somerset: Radiocarbon dating evidence. UBSS Proceedings, 18(3) , pp 390-394 Download PDF.

Abstract: The site of Charterhouse Warren Farm Swallet, reported in full in Levitan et al. 1988, is discussed in relation to the radiocarbon dating results which became available after the full report was completed. Seven dates have been obtained, three from SERC funded submissions to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and four from NERC funded submission to the Scientific Services Radiocarbon Laboratory. These dates show three distinct phases of activity. The earliest phase is the initial deposition, around 3100-2500 BC, of bones that later occupied the Upper Cave Fill in Mitchell's and Bone Chambers. The second phase is the progressive filling of the Entrance Shaft, commencing around 2500-2150 BC and filling very rapidly until about 2460-1995 BC by which time nearly fifteen metres of deposit had accumulated. The five metre zone between Horizons 2 and 4 is shown to have resulted from extremely fast accumulation; possibly a single infilling event. The rest of the Entrance Shaft filled at a slower rate of about one metre per 100 years. The third phase, only hinted at by a single date from a human bone, is the re-opening of the caves during the Iron Age (c. 360-5 BC). It is unlikely, however, that human access was actually possible. These results are interpreted as indicating a definite difference between the Upper Cave Fill and the Entrance Shaft Fill (of which Debris Cone 1 is a constituent) and that the lower part of the Entrance Shaft was deliberately filled by man. No clear interpretation is offered for the human bone dated to the Iron Age other than to say that some sort of access was possible.

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