Pete Buckley and Ali Moody assisted by a band of Wessex diggers have had more success recently at their dig at Bagpit, on the south side of Mendip above Draycott.
The site, a low cliff on the east edge of a closed basin with the same name, has three potential entrances. By excavating Pit 1, a phreatic tube was discovered that led to a descending passage where progress was achieved by digging through several chokes. About 130m of passage has been surveyed so far with the deepest point being 24m down. The cave has a strong draught and is still being actively dug.
What makes this site special are the formations. By any standards this would be a well-decorated small cave, but more interestingly, many of the calcite formations show signs of being formed under very cold conditions, the cryogenic crystals which have so enthused cave scientists.
Not only that, but some of the more usual formations show signs of having been damaged and this seems most likely to have been caused by pressure from ice bodies growing within the cave. These include cracks through stalagmite pillars and stalactite curtains which may have been broken off and then pushed aside by the ice as it grew. It is hoped that research work by a PhD student under Gina Mosely will be carried out at this site during 2019.
The cave is on private property, the landowner has been very accommodating to the diggers and is delighted with what has been found.
There is no right of way anywhere near the cave and a stipulation of the digging permission is that people must not wander over this land. All requests for access must be made through the digging team who will appreciate assistance on working trips. Any queries should be directed to Ali.
Photographs courtesy of Alison Moody and Pete Buckley
Correspondent: Graham Mullan