Brixham Cave, 1859

  1. 8.  Prestwich Joseph (1812-1896). 
    “Report on the exploration of Brixham cave conducted by a committee of the geological Society, and under the superintendence of Wm. Pengelly Esq. F.R.S. aided by a local committee; with descriptions of the animal remains by George Busk Esq., F.R.S., and of the flint implements by John Evans Esq., F.R.S.”  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1873, 163:471-572.

In 1858, a local antiquarian, William Pengelly (1812-1894), learned of an unexcavated cave on the south side of Tor Bay, in southwestern England.  Rather than excavate it himself, he cleverly invited members of the Geological Society of London to come down and supervise the excavation (and to provide unimpeachable witnesses!).  When stone tools were found in the same levels as the bones of extinct animals, it was clear to all present that incontrovertible evidence of human antiquity had at last been established.  Prestwich gave an oral report to that effect in 1859. The full report was not published until 1873.  The plate shows a photograph of the entrance to Brixham cave.  For a map and a portrait of Pengelly, see the wall panel, “Brixham Cave.”

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