Saturday, 15 August 2009


The remarkable Kent’s Cavern is just round the corner from the Estuary, just down the coast at Torquay. In these South Devon caverns the oldest human bone in Britain has been found and here too was found the first evidence on this planet for man’s coexistence with the mammoth. When they were first inhabited the coast had not yet come to Torquay. The Estuary had not yet been shaped. These first cave dwellers were inlanders.

Much later, a mere thirty or forty thousand years ago, the same caverns were inhabited not only by homo sapiens but also by those strange, failed men, the Neanderthal. At some point in this tide of time, when the river had formed and the seas had risen to meet it, some of these earliest cave men came floating or boating in and out of whatever was then here of the Estuary. Some blew in by chance and others cruised in from the sea perhaps escaping from the elements or the elephants or from human enemies and some stayed to do a bit of fishing and hunting and, although no one lately has seen any Heidelbergs or Neanderthals in these parts, homo sapiens has been here ever since.

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