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R E PORTS
THE STATE OF SCIENCE.
Seventh Report of the Committee for Exploring Kent's Cavern, Devonshire,—the Committee consisting of Sir CHARLES LYELL, Bart., F.R.S., Professor PHILLIPS, F.R.Š., Sir John LUBBOCK, Bart., F.R.S., John Evans, F.R.S., EDWARD VIVIAN, GEORGE Busk, F.R.S., WILLIAM BOYD DAWKINS, F.R.S., WILLIAM AYSH FORD
SANFORD, F.G.S., and WILLIAM PENGELLY, F.R.S. (Reporter). DURING the year which has elapsed since the Sixth Report was sent in (Liverpool, 1870), the Committee have without intermission carried on their researches, and have strictly followed the mode of working with which the exploration was commenced in 1865. The Superintendents have continued to visit the Cavern, and to record the results daily; they have, as from the beginning, sent Monthly Reports to the Chairman of the Committee; the work has been carried on by the same workmen, George Smerdon and John Farr, who have discharged their duties in a most efficient and satisfactory manner; and the Cavern is as much resorted to as ever by visitors feeling an interest in the researches,
In June 1871, Mr. Busk, a Member of the Committee, spent some time at Torquay, when he visited the Cavern accompanied by the Superintendents, who took him through all its branches, explored and unexplored. Having carefully watched the progress of the work, and made himself familiar with all its details, he spent some time at the Secretary's residence, examining and identifying a portion of the mammalian remains which had been disinterred.
In November 1870 the Superintendents had also the pleasure of going through the cavern with Mr. W. Morrison, M.P., who takes so active an interest in the exploration of the caves near Settle in Yorkshire.
Besides the foregoing, and exclusive of the large number attended by the guide appointed by the proprietor, Sir L. Palk, Bart., M.P., the Cavern has been visited during the year by the Earl and Countess Russell, Sir R. Sinclair, Bart., Sir C. Trevelyan, Mr. C. Gilpin, M.P., Governor Wayland, U.S., Colonel Ward, Major Bryce, U.S., Rev. Mr. Dickenson, Rev. E. N. Dumbleton, Rev. J. P. Foster, Rev. T. R. R. Stebbing, Dr. Ashford, Dr. Tate, and Messrs. S. Bate, R. Bellasis, L. Bowring, W. R. A. Boyle, W. Bridges, C. Busk, A. Champernowne, Channing, Chaplin, F. A. Fellows, T. Fox, T. Glaisher, J. Harrison, Howard, W. Jones, C. Pannel, Richie, W. Spriggs, E, B. Tawney, G. H. Wollaston, and many others.
Smerdon's Passage. The Committee stated in their last Report that, in excavating the “North Sally-port,” they had been led to a third External Entrance to the Cavern, in the same limestone cliff as the two Entrances known from time immemorial, but at a considerably lower level, where it was completely buried in a great talus of débris. After adding that it had not been thought necessary, or desirable, or even safe to dig through the talus to the open day, they stated the facts which left no doubt of their having penetrated to the outside of the Cavern. During the winter of 1870-71, the question of the existence of the third Entrance was put beyond all doubt ; for, after a considerable rainfall, that portion of the talus which the workmen had undermined fell in, and thereby laid open the Entrance. This cavity was at once filled up, in order to prevent any one from intruding into the Cavern.
It was also stated last year that the new or low-level opening was the External Entrance not only of the North Sally-port, but of another and unsuspected branch of the Cavern, to which had been given the name of “ Smerdon's Passage,” the exploration of which had been begun.
This Passage was found to consist of two Reaches, the first, or outermost, being about 25 feet long, from 3 to 10 feet wide, and having a northerly direction. Near its entrance, or southern end, there are in the roof a few circular holes, from 6 to 12 inches in diameter, apparently the mouths of tortuous shafts extending for some distance into, or perhaps through, the limestone rock. The roof itself and the adjacent portions of the wall bear traces of the long-continued erosive action of running water, but below the uppermost 12 or 18 inches the walls have many sharp angular inequalities. Further in, the roof has an irregular fretted aspect, apparently the result of the corrosive action of acidulated water, whilst the walls retain the angular appearance just mentioned.
The Second Reach runs nearly east and west, is about 32 feet long, somewhat wider than the first, and its roof is several feet higher. At its outer or eastern end the roof and walls are much fretted ; further in, there are holes in the roof similar to those just mentioned, with the exception of being larger. Some of them contain a small quantity of soil, resembling Cave-earth, and firmly cemented to the wall; whilst adjacent to others there is a considerable amount of stalactitic matter. Still further in, the roof, which has the aspect of a watercourse, is covered with a thin veneer of white stalactite; and near the inner end there is a considerable hole in the roof containing a large accumulation of the same material.
At the western or inner end of this Second Reach, the limestone roof gave place to one consisting of angular pieces of limestone cemented with carbonate of lime into a very firm concrete. In breaking this up, the workman thrust his iron bar up through it, and found he had thereby opened a passage into the eastern end of that branch of the Cavern known as the “Sloping Chamber," the concrete floor of which was at the same time the roof of the Passage.
At the outer or eastern end of the Second Reach there was found another Low-level Entrance, about 20 feet from that previously mentioned, and having no marks of the action of water.
Narrow ramifications extend through the limestone rock from both Reaches of Smerdon's Passage (westward from the firet, and southwards from the second) and intersect one another; their roofs are also perforated with holes, and exhibit traces of the action of running water.
Throughout both Reaches there were in certain places strips of Stalagmitic Floor extending continuously across from wall to wall, and varying from a quarter of an inch to 6 inches in thickness. The most important of these strips was about 8 feet long. Elsewhere the Cave-earth was either completely bare, or had on it here and there what may be called conical scales of stalagmite, from 3 to 12 inches in diameter at the base, and from 1 to 4 inches in thickness at the centre. From them, and generally near the middle, there not unfrequently rose one or more rudely cylindrical masses of the same material, sometimes 9 inches high, 6 inches in circumference, and locally known as “ Cow's Paps.” In almost every instance of the kind there depended from the limestone roof, vertically over them, a long, slender, quill-like tube of stalactite, occasionally reaching and uniting with the “ Paps.” Such tubes occurred also in certain places where there were no “Paps," and in some spots there was quite a forest of them, extending from the roof to the Stalagmitic Floor. Wherever it was possible to excavate the deposit beneath without breaking them, they were left intact. In some cases the Stalagmitic Floor, or the Cave-carth where the latter was bare, reached the roof; and where this was not the case, the unoccupied space was rarely more than a foot in height.
About midway in the Second Reach there was on each wall a remnant of an old floor of stalagmite, about 8 inches above the floor found intact, fully 6 inches thick, about 6 feet in length, and within a few inches of the roof.
The mechanical deposit in the Passage was the ordinary red Cave-earth, in some places sandy, but occasionally a very compact clay. It contained a considerable number of angular fragments of limestone, numerous blocks of old crystalline stalagmite, and a few well-rolled pebbles of quartz, red grit, and flint. The masses of limestone were not unfrequently of considerable size; indeed one of them required to be blasted twice, and another three times, in order to effect their removal; and some of the blocks of stalagmite measured fully 15 cubic feet.
From the entrance of the First Reach to about 10 feet within it, the upper surface of the Cave-earth was almost perfectly horizontal; but from the latter point it rose irregularly higher and higher, until, at the inner end of the Second Reach, the increased height amounted to about 9 feet. There were no tunnels or burrows in the deposit, such as occurred in both the Sally-ports, and were described in the Fifth and Sixth Reports (1869 and 1870). Near the inner end of the Second Reach the Cave-earth adjacent to the walls was cemented into a concrete.
The deposit in the lateral ramifications of the Passage was the same typical Cave-earth, containing blocks of old crystalline stalagmite and angular pieces of limestone, but without any Stalagmitic Floor.
It was stated in the Sixth Report (1870), p. 26, that at the third External Entrance, i. e. the first of the low-level series, the deposits were of two kinds—the ordinary Cave-earth, with the usual osseous remains, below; and small angular pieces of limestone, with but little earth and no fossils, above. Materials of precisely the same character, and in the same order, were found at the new low-level Entrance, at the eastern end of the Second Reach of Smerdon's Passage, as already stated.
Besides a large number of bones, portions of bones, and fragments of antlers, a total of fully 2900 teeth were found in the Passage and its rami