Friday, 28 June 2013

Spooky Wookey Hole - Sepia Saturday

Not being much of a caveman my heart sank when I saw the Wombeyan cave shot chosen as this week's feature.
However the local flea market came to my rescue when I found this postcard.
Solomon's Temple, Gough's Cave, Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is famous for its caves; it's a spectacular place to visit and is a favourite for those hardy souls who spend their time rock climbing 

Rift Cave
There can’t be much doubt how that cave’s name came about.

A number of the caves have great shows of stalactites and stalagmites.

Cox's Cave showing stalactites and stalagmites

Some 40,000 years ago the inhabitants were said to have practised cannibalism, yet 200 years ago the Gorge was little known and the track to it had been abandoned following tales of ghostly attacks by beings from the hillside.

Modern ghost busters who spent the night at Cox's Mill nearby reported light anomalies, a sudden feeling of sickness and a face that appeared from the wood panelling around the fireplace.

However if it’s spooks you want, then the place to be in Somerset is undoubted the caves at Wookey Hole.

Wookey Hole Cave and underground river
Human remains, pottery and crude jewellery have provided evidence that the caves were inhabited by Stone Age hunters. 

The caves have been formed by millions of years of erosion by the River Axe. Many stalactites and stalagmites have been left behind. One large stalagmite is said to be the Witch of Wookey, turned to stone for her evil deeds.

The Witch of Wookey
Supposedly, the witch lived in the caves with a goat and its kid as her familiars; crossed in love she cast spells on the Wookey villagers. A monk sent to the cave by the Abbot of Glastonbury sprinkled her with holy water. She turned to stone where she stands today on the bank of the Axe in Wookey’s Great Cave.

In 1912 excavations in the caves discovered the bones of a Romano-British woman with, nearby, the bones of a goat and kid, a comb, a dagger and a round stalagmite like a witch’s crystal ball. The relics are on show in the Wells and Mendip Museum.

Skeleton labelled the Witch of Wookey (Wells and Mendip Museum
My trips underground have been restricted to the Tube and to old copper mines at Alderley Edge in Cheshire – not haunted, I’m pleased to say.

If you fancy yourself as a speleologist then cross over and follow the links at Sepia-saturday-183.

Photo Attributions:
  • Rift Cave - Nov 1967 by John Reston - Geograph Project Collection, CC BY-SA 2,0
  • Cox's Cave - Oct 2008 by Throwawayhack - CC BY-SA 3,0
  • Wookey Hole Cave - April 2012 by Becks - CC BY 2.0
  • Wookey Map and the Witch of Wookey - freepages-folklore.
  • Skeleton in Wells and Mendip Museum - June 2013 by Rodw - CC BY-SA 3.0


Wendy said...

Love the legend of the Witch of Wookey. Great story with corroborating evidence.

In Virginia, we have several caverns that are a major tourist draw. The best is the Luray Caverns where there is a formation that looks like 2 fried eggs. These caverns are famous for the stalacpipe organ.

Jo said...

No thanks Bob, visited some caves in Virginia with fantastic things to see, never did go to Cheddar. I think some of these spelunkers and cave divers are nuts. Admittedly its interested to watch on TV. Interesting pix Bob.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Even as a cured phobic I wouldn't set foot in these spooky caves. The rift is particularly spine chilling.

Nigel Aspdin (Derby, UK) said...

Plenty more mineral mines over the border in Derbyshire... Eckington/Copper, and the limestone is riddled with lead mines. It was my A level Geography project, and I am pleased to say, was my best grade !

Little Nell said...

See, now that wasn't too difficult was it. Nice post, but I felt sure you'd show the shell 'grotto' from Tresco.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Spooks, ghosts, witches....some of my favorite things. I won't be visiting those caves soon. I agree the best way to tour a cave is on TV.

Brett Payne said...

Although I used to work underground for a brief period in my youth, I'm never comfortable in caves. Exploring them from the comfort of my computer is far more to my liking.

Postcardy said...

I like the postcard you found.

Kristin said...

Poor witch. Killed by Holy Water and now bones on display for eternity. If I had thought of visiting any caves, this post cured me of that desire.

Alan Burnett said...

One of the great delights of blogging is being able to take a chance subject and follow it on a circuitous route to nowhere in particular - a magical mystery tour of ideas. Another of the great joys of blogging is being able to read the posts of writers (like you) who do this so well.

Alex Daw said...

Wow - you've done a lot of work on this post. I liked the map best.

Karen S. said...

I was excited to hop over here once I knew you'd be touching on the spooky side of caves and things. Pleased I am too that I arrived and read all this before, setting my foot in one of those spooky caves! Lions and tigers and goats (with her kid) oh my! Fun!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I do believe that there must be a witch in that photo...but my poor eyes can't discern it...however the skeleton remains are pretty clear to me. Bet that "old? dear" has hung around haunting a bit since her bones are on display, I sure would!

Joan said...

My favorite is the Cox Cave photo. So much to see, imagine, and relct upon. Kind of like a doll house in a way.

Gail Perlee said...

Beautiful & fascinating pictures with a little spirited mystery thrown in. I like it!

Sharon said...

I love these old stories and tales.

I googled it but I couldn't see if the bones had been dated?

Also learnt a new word today. I thought initially that you were making a joke about witches and spells until I googled "speleologist.

tony said...

Some Local History I Never Knew.Thanks For Throwing Light on the darkness below our feet!


Cool story!!
But I prefer reading about spooky characters like that then meeting them face-to-face...
I guess the monk didn't do such a great job, if the bones were found.