Font size






Devil’s Tower Cave– Mousterian Shelter (skull of Neanderthal child found)

Ref: HLCGFP4/003

Devil’s Tower Cave is a very narrow fissure which was used by Neanderthals as a rock shelter. It has a maximum height of just over 10 metres and is only around a meter-wide heading into the cliff face for approximately four meters. The cave floor is 9 meters above present sea level on a rocky outcrop.

The cave was discovered by Col Willoughby Verner, an English Ornithologist based in Gibraltar in 1911 together with L’Abbe Breuil, the famous French prehistorian. They realised the importance of the site’s breccias but didn’t have time to dedicate in excavating the site.

On the 28th April 1917, they returned to the site for a closer inspection, and found various Neanderthal stone tools and animal remains. Sadly, this visit was also cut short as a military police officer saw them clambering up the cliff face and told them they could not do this and had to ‘keep to the road’.

On the 10th April 1919, they yet again returned to the site, this time with a pass given to them by the then Governor. This time they eagerly explored the talus and were able to find some more remains including over a dozen flint tools and described the area as having several beddings of rock falls and breccias.

From these discoveries and the fact that Devil’s Tower Cave was so close to Forbes’s Quarry Cave where the famous Neanderthal Skull had been found a few years earlier in 1848, it was deduced that the cave site had been used by ‘Prehistoric Man’ and the remains of animal bones and shells were the left overs of their food. It was clear to them that they had been cooking these animals too since pieces of burnt bone and charcoal was also found.

Between November 1925 and January 1927, the site was further investigated by Dorothy Garrod from Cambridge University under the suggestion of L’Abbe Breuil. She excavated the site intensively and succeeded in discovering another very important find, a Neanderthal Skull, now often referred to as Gibraltar 2. It is now known that this skull belonged to a Neanderthal Child, who was around four years of age.

Link to Neville Chipulina 2019 - The 200 Caves of Gibraltar - Part 4

Dorothy Garrod with the fragments of skull found at Devil's Tower Cave.

Dorothy Garrod as WAAC, 1945 (Chipulina).

Henri Édouard Prosper Breuil (Chipulina).

1926 - Garrod Devil's Tower Cave entrance (Chipulina).

Devil's Tower cave Beanland & Malin early 20th Century (Chipulina).

Devil’s Tower Cave– Mousterian Shelter (skull of Neanderthal child found) Image