30th December

Vince, Brockers, Jake, Nick, Tav, [Duncan arrived later to continue survey in showcave]

It has been a long time since Brockers joined a digging session in Wookey Hole, as guest of ‘honour’ this evening he was duly dispatched to the front to dig, not an easy task as it turned out. The end is rather constricted, obstructed by deposits of mineralisation, making excavation awkward and protracted, we will get through it, eventually. I was next in line clearing away the filled buckets and, in between, battering a lump of mineral vein in the floor with a sledgehammer. Unfortunately for Nick, he was stuck in ‘no-mans land’ without tools or any place for him to dig, just waiting for a bucket to arrive. Jake and Tav were busy on spoil management, emptying the buckets when they turned up and creating more space for ongoing redistribution of sediment. Still, it was an enjoyable evening.

We met Duncan in the entrance tunnel where he had been tidying up the cave survey. Together, we enjoyed refreshments in the ravine and reflected on the evening’s digging and plans for the day’s ahead.

Brockers as featured in a recent Finnish magazine. Article by Duncan Simey

16th December

Report by Jon:

“Tav, Nick and Jon were this week joined by Jake, freed from his satanic duties. Tav, as the evening’s key holder, had warned of another late start but the Team headed off to the cave only a few minutes later than usual.

There was another delay while Jake tried to get his lamp to work. The problem was diagnosed as the batteries. Tav saved the evening by offering up his spare.

At the dig face, the extra pair of hands was used at the spoil heap. Following the usual rotation, Tav dug, Jon hauled and Nick emptied, with assistance from Jake.

With no planning or intent, a very satisfactory 23 buckets were again removed before the Team departed.

Tav left the cave in darkness, his battery exhausted, and recounted his efforts that evening – digging with two feet above his head. The others remain unsure about that one!

Once again we left the site to the sound of a non-sleeping owl.”

Let sleeping owls lie!

9th December

Report by Jon:

“The Team comprised only Jon, Tav and Nick again this week. Excuses for absence included undertaking archaeological work of national importance in a newly discovered cave to “being on Lucifer duty”. One member was also delayed because of a prior engagement – a festive cheese and wine gathering. However, digging always prevails and the Team gathered at the appointed place, albeit later than usual.

At the dig face, Nick dug, Tav hauled and Jon emptied. The late start limited what could be achieved, but a pleasing 23 buckets were dug; pleasing because it is a prime number.

The Team returned to the cave entrance with the majority expecting a cheese and wine offering. There was none.

After a beer, all departed to the sound of an owl hooting. This one was definitely not sleeping.”

2nd December

Reported by Jon:

Only three of the team (Jon, Tav, and Nick) were available on a cold December evening. However, the team set off determined to prove that the current dig can be worked by only three. The trip through the cave was an opportunity to warm up. There has been little rain and the cave remains dry.

At the dig face, Jon dug and filled buckets, Nick hauled and Tav emptied.

No onward development was made; effort focused on clearing out the approach to the dig face.

Tav counted the buckets, so we have a reliable number. 26 buckets were filled, hauled and emptied. There was much discussion as to whether or not this was a good number. Tav prefers even numbers and had a preference to stop at a satisfactory two dozen. Nevertheless he would have accepted 25 (as a quarter of 100) or 27 (apparently lucky). Nick just wanted to sneak in a couple of extras (and did so). Jon prefers odd numbers and ideally prime ones. We settled on 26, because of time constraints or, indeed, overtime. The good news is that 26 is 2 times 13, both of which are prime.

However, the number of the evening was 3. The dig can be worked with 3.

18th November

Vince, Nick, Tav, Jake, Duncan, and Mike

Nick digging assisted by me, Tav was hauling the skip, then Duncan (I think!) was next in line, leaving Jake and Mike to sort out the spoil dumping.

Usual stuff – sediment loosened, buckets filled, passed along the rift. Emptied and returned. Repeated lots of times. As is the norm, good steady forward progress and it is still warm work!

11th November

Vince, Jake, Nick, Mike, Jon, and Duncan

Well! It has been a while, for me anyway, with one thing or another. There has been some digging activity, but no reports received.

Back to this evening’s activities, Jake and Nick digging, I was hauling the skip, filled buckets were passed to Mike, empties returned. Jon was at the end of the rift, Duncan dealt with the contents of the buckets and cleaned them. The spoil heap is getting quite full and requires some attention.

A steady evening’s progress and Jake returned with a positive vibe. Good stuff!

7th October

Vince, Duncan, Nick, Tav, Jon, and Mike

My turn to dig (in Jake’s absence) aided by Duncan, I could see Nick’s light peering through the low section waiting for the next bucket. Then Jon, Tav and Mike occupying various positions leading to the spoil being dumped and the empty, cleaned buckets returned to the dig face.

Started the digging making more a bit more space (now able to stand up), at the dig face plenty of space to kneel comfortably and swing the mattock. Loosened a pile of sediment then scooped it into buckets passing back the filled buckets back to Duncan. The sediment consists of layered clay, silt, and sand with some infrequent cobble- and boulder-size lumps of calcite mineral, colour ranges from pale red brown to bright yellow. A stiff layer of clay seals less compacted layers of silt and/or sand. Good stuff to dig.

There was some comment/discussion regarding the air quality but, I was digging hard, and it was fine. Obviously, with the effort of hard, physical work as the evening progresses, temperature rises, there’s the chance some might run out of puff!