16 January 2015

Creswell

There's a little valley to the east of Sheffield - not far from Worksop and it has tantalising stories to tell of our distant past. When England was connected to the rest of Europe - via the forests and plains of Doggerland that now lie beneath The North Sea - some of our prehistoric ancestors would often come to the little valley of which I speak. A pure stream ran through the ravine and in the limestone cliffs to each side of this stream there were several caves.

These caves provided sanctuary, safety from wild beasts and unwelcome human visitors and they were quite warm and gave shelter from the cold when the last Ice Age began to bite. Archaeologists believe that the caves were first occupied about 50,000 years ago and on and off were used by our ancestors for about 45,000 years. That's a hell of a long time. How did they get on without Jesus, Buddha or Muhammad to guide them through those endless millennia, those long and ink black nights?

It's not that our distant ancestors always lived in the caves as we live in our homes. Sometimes their sojourns were temporary as they followed the seasons and hunted for food. They must have been extremely interdependent - relying on each other for survival. There was of course nobody else that they could fall back upon for support - no emergency phone numbers, no police officers, no shops. It must have been really, really hard but so beautiful too. They would have known nothing of the world beyond their limited horizons.
I am talking about Creswell Crags. As my nasty friend Gordon Gout had mercifully disappeared for a while, I walked through the valley this afternoon. You couldn't get in the caves as they are only open at weekends in the wintertime. In these caves they have found all manner of remains from the past - flint tools, the jaw bone of a hyena, bones from lions, wild cows, the hippopotamus, the narrow nosed rhinoceros, the woolly mammoth and plenty of teeth. They have also found human bones and a woman's skull that is judged to be 12,000 years old. But more than that they have found cave drawings and images etched on ancient bones - a horse, a stag a human form. This cave art is the most northerly work ever found in Europe.

Being there - it makes you think and puts so many other things into perspective. How I would have loved to run with them for just one day, to see the world from their point of view. But what could I have told them? Most likely nothing but at least I could have scratched an image of Ed Miliband in the cave wall.

22 comments:

  1. Now tat red box on the gate wouldn't be an artefact from yesteryear. Is it a donation box or a syringe disposal bin (dare I ask)?

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    1. I think it is a fire extinguisher or maybe an Australian Dame alarm!

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  2. And unwelcome visitors still come. Perhaps they should be the ones put in the caves....just a thought!

    As always, an interesting post, Yorky.

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    1. Your aboriginal peoples were probably doing their thing at the same time Lee.

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    2. They were probably doing it a long time before, Yorky. Their roots go way, way back....

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  3. Ah, so that's how the name Dogger Bank came about, I have been fascinated for many years (since my school years) by this name..... thanks for enlightening me.

    Keep taking the medication, things are slowly improving but I can see you are not wholly recovered yet.

    Ms Soup

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    1. Spooky Alphie! You are just like Mystic Meg!

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  4. Fascinating! It's a shame the folks who think the world was formed in 4004BC (complete with fossils to confuse us) can't appreciate this.

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    1. Oh. Are you talking about certain Christian creationists? How can they be so stupid?

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    2. How can they be so stupid??? Damned if I know. But they're all around us.

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  5. How I wish I could come visit...I am fascinated by the lives of early humans. Two great works of fiction based on known facts about them are Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel and Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson. The latter, a story about a boy named Loon growing up during the ice ages was oddly touching...some aspects of being human are timeless.

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    1. Those books sounds great Jennifer and after yesterday it is the sort of thing I would like to read right now. I also suspect that certain fundamental human traits were there from the beginning.

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  6. I happy to see you mobile again. This is somewhere I have never been but I can't say why. I ought to go for a good look round sometime. It looks a very interesting place.

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    1. It is great that it has survived the march of progress. Very close by there's a vast limestone quarry.

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  7. I, too, am fascinated by pre-historic human life. I don't think I'd be very happy with them, though; I probably depend far too much on the physical comforts of hot showers, proper beds and regular meals I've been fortunate enough to have been enjoying all my life. I love the outdoors but I don't want to be entirely exposed to it. I know, I'm a weakling and a sissy.
    Oh, and there were no libraries back then!

    I can definitely see your point, though. Life was much harder in most ways but much simpler in the overall way. As for religion - they did have their own cults, we just don't know that much about them. And they didn't live very long, which makes it all the more amazing they still had enough time and energy to create wonderful art.

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    1. Any chance of a fashion selfie Miss Arian? With you in animal skins holding a wooden club? ...And yes you are right - they will have had fantasies and fears which must have spawned semi-religious beliefs and rituals.

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    2. Too bad your mama never taught you not to throw stones, YP. Interesting places and nice pics, but I tire of the endless jabs. I am neither stupid nor unfeeling. You are all entitled to your opinions on religion, creation, etc. but you'd think a stroll through the countryside would put you in a better humor (humour).....

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    3. I wasn't throwing stones Hilly and none of what I said was aimed at you. Though I have no religion, the phenomenon fascinates me and occasionally reflections upon religion will be part of my particular blogging journey. I wonder how you would reflect upon the fact that human beings were existing, interacting and advancing for a million years before Jesus of Nazareth allegedly came along? (By the way my "mama" was also an atheist who disliked the hypocrisies that so often colour religious belief)

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  8. Thank you for not aiming at me - I was ducking, anyhow. I know that humans existed before Jesus walked the earth. You can no more 'prove' we were here a million years ago than I can 'prove' to you that God created the heavens and earth. You believe what scientists unknown to you have told you. I believe the Bible. We both have faith, just in different things. I'm not much for hypocrisy, either. I don't base my 'religion' on what others tell me. I read it and decide for myself. I find it easier to believe in God than to imagine that all came together with a BANG or somehow evolved from sludge. Even in those instances, you have to wonder where the matter came from to start with. It's not dull here in your corner of blogland, that's for sure ;-).

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  9. Naughty Mr Pudding.
    I am surprised and horrified that an educated man and an educator could live with the mistaken belief that it was people that drew those pictures 50,000 years ago. You are just silly. Everyone knows that the hippopotamus lives in Africa and not Yorkshire.
    These paintings are what we would now call a retrospective by God. He did them whilst relaxing on the seventh day.

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  10. "I don't base my 'religion' on what others tell me. I read it and decide for myself". Isn't that exactly what atheists do. The difference being only that science is rather more up to date that books written centuries after an event by many people from oral traditions.

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