The definitive report on this Middle Pleistocene site in England's Mendip Hills, covering its formation processes, palaeontology, archaeology, taphonomy and palaeoecology.
In 1969 blasting at a Somerset quarry exposed a massive cave, filled with well-preserved faunal remains and flint artefacts attributed to the Cromerian interglacial of the Middle Pleistocene. Between 1976 and 1984 the site was excavated by the Natural History Museum. This full project report re-assesses the age of the site and the controversial claims for early humans at Westbury. It describes a pioneering methodological approach to reconstructing past habitat changes and linking a terrestrial sequence to the global oxygen isotope stage sequence.
Westbury Cave makes a persuasive case for many of the bone-rich Middle Pleistocene deposits belonging to a single but climatically variable interglacial that succeeded the Cromerian, perhaps about 500,000 years ago. Detailed analysis of the origin and modification of the flint artefacts leads to the conclusion that the assemblage was probably a product of geomorphological processes rather than human work, but a single cut-marked bone suggests a human presence. The controversy continues.
Westbury Cave: The Natural History Museum Excavations 1976-1984 is available to order from our co-publisher Western Academic & Specialist Press Ltd. For details of how to contact them, please visit Publishing partners.
Contributors include P. Andrews, J. Cook, A. Currant, A. Gentry, B. Ghaleb, P. Goldberg, R. Grün, R. I. MacPhail, D. Schreve, W. Stanton, C. Stringer and A. Turner.