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HYAENA DEN CAVE

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A wide low arch on the east side of the Wookey Hole ravine. The cave was originally discovered circa 1852 by workmen cutting a water channel for nearby mills. At the time, a coin hoard; consisting of silver coins of Allectus (AD 293-6) and Commodus (AD 180-92) were distributed among the workmen and 'third brass' coins, of Constantius II, (AD 337-61) Valentinian I (AD 364-75) and Valens (AD 364-78); probably deposited in the late 4th century AD and comprising several hundred Roman coins, mainly silver, in a broken pot was found, as was a "bone bed" featuring remains of woolly rhinocerous, hyaena and other Pleistocene mammals. Some human skeletal material was also claimed to have been found, but this has never been confirmed. William Boyd Dawkins undertook excavations from 1859 until at least 1874, uncovering further animal remains as well as Paleaolithic flint and chert implements, this representing an early demonstration of the contemporaneity of extinct fauna and human activity. Further digging occurred intermittently throughout the later 19th century and beyond. The University of Bristol Speleological Society excavated at the cave between 1966 and 1970, encountering mainly disturbed deposits, but no artefacts. Trenching by the British Museum in 1992 located some undisturbed deposits, with finds including the debris from Middle Palaeolithic tool manufacture, further animal remains, and a substantial deposit of Pleistocene fish remains.

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