The limestone Victoria Cave is located east of Langcliffe in Ribblesdale and was discovered by chance in 1837, the year of Queen Victoria’s coronation.
Since then it has been completely excavated and has yielded a fantastic record of climate change in the Dales over thousands of years.
It contained a large number of prehistoric bones, of which the earliest were 130,000 years old and included those of hippos, narrow-nosed rhino, elephants and spotted hyenas. They date to a period when the climate was much warmer than today.
Following the last Ice Age, the cave was used by hibernating brown bear. In amongst the bones of reindeer was an 11,000 year old antler harpoon point, the first evidence for people in the Yorkshire Dales.
For archaeologists, the Roman layers were even more interesting, giving up a collection of unusual bronze and bone artefacts, including brooches, coins and pottery, some imported from as far away as France and Africa. Archaeologists have speculated for years as to what exactly was going on in the cave and it now seems likely that the inside was used as a shrine and there was a workshop area outside.
Some items from the cave are held at the Craven Museum in Skipton.
The roof of the cave has become increasingly unstable over the years and roof falls are possible.