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Cave’s history brought to life

Grassington, 4 July, 2012.

An exhibition highlighting the history of one of the most famous caves in the Yorkshire Dales will be officially opened on Friday.

Victoria Cave near Settle was discovered 175 years ago this year. Major excavations were carried out in the nineteenth century but the thick clay deposits in it are still providing scientists with an amazing record of climate change across the Dales over hundreds of thousands of years. A 130,000-year-old hippo and elephant and hyena bones were recovered by the Victorians along with evidence that it was used by the Romans, possibly as a shrine.

In fact, the cave is considered to be so important that it has been classified as a scheduled monument and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The exhibition – called ‘Victoria Cave revisited’ – is being staged in the Museum of North Craven Life in The Folly in Settle and will be opened by Carl Lis, the Chairman of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), which owns the cave.

It is part of a wider project called ‘Geo Dales’, which aims to maximise the environmental and socio-economic benefits of geodiversity in the National Park and in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The project is being run by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and is funded by the YDNPA’s Sustainable Development Fund.

Work within the National Park includes developing a new geological trail between Winskill Stones-Victoria Cave and Attermire Scars near Langcliffe. This will involve a number of key partnerships and community groups including Ingleborough Archaeology Group, Rockwatch Group, British Cave Research Association, North Craven Heritage, Plantlife, Natural England Cave Conservation Project, Local Field Societies and the YDNPA.
 
The project also involves some conservation/management work at Victoria Cave and Winskill Stones managed by YDNPA staff.

The exhibition consists of 10 panels – including one illustrating the valuable work of the Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation – and some of the artefacts found in the cave.

In addition, Tom Lord, whose grandfather rescued much of the Victorian archive and finds, will give a talk, 'Victoria Cave: a Neglected Monument of Victorian Science', on 14 July. Tickets can be purchased in advance from The Folly or by phoning 01729 822893.

Robert White, the YDNPA’s Senior Historic Environment Officer, said: “As well as showcasing some of these finds, the exhibition illustrates the continuing significance of the cave – in the nineteenth-century it attracted influential academics and explorers and triggered a lively interest in archaeology among the townspeople. “

Mr Lis will also be opening a second exhibition called 'Time to Celebrate', which looks at some of the ways in which local communities celebrate and mark special occasions.

Museum Curator Anne Read said: “Some months ago we launched an appeal for material for the exhibition and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. We’ve been loaned memorabilia and photographs from every part of North Craven that show how people have celebrated royal events, family reunions, galas, community shows and school anniversaries.

“It gives a fascinating insight into our villages and towns – and shows how well the people of North Craven can put on a celebration! We hope to add to the exhibition in the coming months as people visit and are inspired to contribute their own material. It is important that we record today's events for posterity.”

Both exhibitions will run until October 28.

The Folly was built in 1679 by Richard Preston, a wealthy lawyer. His new house, standing by the old main road into the town, formed the centrepiece of his estate in Settle and was undoubtedly built to make an impact.

A Grade 1 listed building in recognition of its outstanding architectural importance, it has been restored by the North Craven Building Preservation Trust as part of a phased rescue and development project
More information about the building and its history can be found at www.ncbpt.org.uk/folly.

The Museum is open on Tuesdays from 10.30am to 4.30pm and from Thursdays to Sundays inclusive and on Bank Holiday Mondays from 12.30pm to 4.30pm. Party visits are welcome by appointment by phoning 01524 251388 or 01729 822361.
 

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