Updated 22nd December 2004, 12th October 2005; 27th October 2007; 23rd
December 2008; 19th February, 30th November, 3rd December 2016
A small cave entrance below a 1.5m scar is blocked by 2 rocks. A 3m crawl slopes down the quickly enlarges to the head of a 10m pitch. The pitch top is 3-4m across and, to the right, a step down and free climb down the back reaches the base of the cave through a small rift.
If a ladder is used down the main drop this hangs between large flakes and lands in a well decorated, low chamber. To the north, a 4m wide rift ascends past the entry point on the right from the free climb to where it chokes with calcite after some 15m. There appears to be a hole about 8m up above the calcite which may pass over the blockage. A maypole could be useful to ascend the calcited walls.
Near the base of the ladder when the cave was first entered in December 2004 there was black pottery and some bones. Half way up the ladder, on a ledge at the western side of the pitch, about 5m above the floor, lay a damaged human skull. On a ledge hidden under the skull was some more pottery.
One theory for the position of the remains is that the bones were packed into an urn which was placed on the entrance slope above the pitch. This eventually rolled down, hit the flake part way down the drop with the urn and contents shattering. The skull and some pottery landed across the drop and the remaining pottery and possibly bones fell to the base.
During the summer 2005, the skull, pottery and bones were removed. The pottery belongs to at least 5 bronze age objects and the skull is likely to belong to an adolescent from about 3500bp, ie the Middle Bronze Age, about 1500BC. The pottery has "mamelones", characteristic protrusions or nipples similar to those on pottery from Torca del Serruco.
The results of a preliminary study by Jesús Ruiz Cobo is found here as a pdf file. A major article Heads Will Roll: Prehistoric human remains and pottery from two sites in the Matienzo area (North Spain) (Smith P, Corrin J & Ruiz Cobo J, 2008) describes the finds and compares the pottery assemblage with pottery found in sites 0003, 0065, 0089, 0179, 0360, 0913 and 1232. This publication also suggests that it is probable this site "was associated with a small open-air settlement, possibly located at the head of the Cubija valley".
Line drawings of the skull from 4 sides (from Ruiz Cobo Jesús et al, 2008) can be viewed here. In reference Ruiz Cobo Jesús, 2016a, Chuchi calls the site El Torco de Cubija.
References: anon., 2004e (autumn logbook); anon., 2004f (Christmas
logbook); anon., 2005b (Easter & summer logbook); Corrin, Juan 2006;
Corrin Juan and Smith Peter, 2007; Smith P, Corrin J & Ruiz Cobo J, 2008 (survey and drawings);
Ruiz Cobo Jesús et al, 2008 (survey and drawings); Ruiz Cobo J and Muñoz Fernández E, 2013; Ruiz Cobo Jesús, 2016a; Smith Peter et al, 2016
Entrance pictures: yes
Underground picture(s): yes
Archaeological remains: yes
Video: by Juan Corrin 145Mb 10 minute wmv of excavations
Pete Eagan on entrance pitch : close up of skull
Pete Smith looking into entrance : Jesús Ruiz Cobo measuring on "piso 1"
Zoom out from skull : lifting skull
lifting pottery 1 2 : taking skull up pitch
general pan of "piso 2" : studying pottery
Jesús Ruiz Cobo laying out the excavation site 1 2
Pan across site : Jenny Corrin label writing
Sketching site : labelled pottery
Video lights : Jesús & Jenny
Labelled floor : Zoom out on piso 2
Pottery wrapping : bone extraction
sketching on piso 2 : Pottery on floor
Jenny Corrin emerging from entrance
Detailed Survey : sketch 1:500 plan and projected section
On area survey:
Survex file: yes (Amended magnetic declination December 2013 to align with Eur79 grid and coordinates altered to fit ETRS89 datum, April 2014.)