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Discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain

  • Paul G. Bahn (a1), Paul Pettitt (a2) and Sergio Ripoll (a3)


We are pleased to present here a preliminary account of the first discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain.

On 14 April 2003 we made the first discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain. Since portable art of the period has long been known in this country (Sieveking 1972; Campbell 1977: vol. 2, figs 102, 105, 143), it has always seemed probable that parietal art must also have existed. We knew that we were most unlikely to discover paintings, since these are generally quite visible; but as far as we knew, nobody with a trained eye and advantageous lighting had combed the British caves in search of engravings, which are often extremely difficult to see. Such was the purpose of our initial survey and, sure enough, we rapidly encountered engraved marks in a number of caves, which we will be investigating more fully and systematically in the near future. At the well-known sites of Creswell Crags, in Derbyshire, we found both figurative and non-figurative engravings of the period. What follows is a brief, preliminary announcement of a discovery soon to be further amplified in print following systematic investigation.



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