Interpretation Of The Artistic Complex

From the beginning we felt that we should take enormous care in interpretation, but the importance of the discovery led to the dissemination of the first images of the caprid and two birds, images which had not yet been checked in situ. In any case, we wish, with this paper, to continue the more accurate dissemination of the Creswell Crags engravings. Initially, we made a chronological attribution to the Creswellian, that is, between 12,500 and 12,000 BP (13,000-15,000 cal BP), which is the cultural horizon with which the depictions best fitted stylistically. But, as has been shown recently, the stylistic characteristics of particular figures do not necessarily tie them to a specific period, albeit one that is predominant in the area. The dating results from various samples of calcite flow has enabled us to shed more light on the art's antiquity. Moreover, some researchers have mentioned the non-existence of Bison in the English Late Pleistocene palaeontological record, but we wonder whether this is an erroneous interpretation. In the publication by J. B. Campbell (1970) on the excavations at Creswell Crags, quite apart from the remains found in the Mesolithic level of Mother Grundy's Parlour, he says that in stratum C and D/C Bos/Bison sp. is present, while it is abundant in level D. In addition, W. Boyd Dawkins (1876) cites the existence in Robin Hood Cave of thirty remains (four mandibles or teeth and twenty-six bones) of Bison priscus in the cave's lower level, which were not introduced by hyenas (since they bear no tooth marks) but perhaps by streams. However, in the intermediate level, the same author reports the presence of six bones of this same species. One needs to take into account the fact that this stratigraphic horizon contains clear evidence of a human presence through the existence of tools. It may be true that these remains ofBison priscus bear no deXeshing marks, and therefore did not form part of the diet of the cave's occupants, but nevertheless they clearly provide evidence of the animal's existence in this zone, and therefore of the possibility that any artist could have depicted them on the walls of Church Hole Cave. In any case, we believe that a new systematic study of all the faunal remains needs to be undertaken, applying a uniform criterion which will help to distinguish the various species present in the diVerent caves, including, of course, all the material from the early excavations. We hope that in the near future new excavations will be undertaken that will be far more scientific and systematic than those of the nineteenth century, and will collect absolutely all the data which will certainly shed new light on this discovery which is of such importance for British rock art.


Campbell, J. B. 1970. Excavations at Creswell Crags: Preliminary Report. Derbyshire

Archaeological Journal, 89: 47-58. Dawkins, W. 1876. On the Mammalia and Traces of Man Found in the Robin Hood Cave. Read at the Geological Society, April 5, 1876. Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 6(1): 95-7.

-1877. On the Mammal-Fauna of the Caves of Creswell Crags. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 33(3): 589-612.

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