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Hyaena Cave, Palaeontological site

Ref: HLCGFP4/011

Hyaena Cave is one of four caves which together make up the Gorham's Cave complex, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016; the others being Vanguard, Gorham's and Bennett's Cave. Together, they contain a rich archive of stone tools, remains of camp fires, bones, molluscs and pollen that permit a detailed reconstruction of climate and ecology, as well as Neanderthal behaviour, and changes through time. Two of these caves (Gorham’s and Vanguard) have been the subject of research over the past 25 years; the other two (Bennett’s and Hyaena) have been left untouched and left in reserve for future research.

Hyaena Cave, with a depth of 6m, lies adjacent to Vanguard Cave.  It has a height of 5m and a width of 7m at its entrance. Hyaena Cave, like the other three in the complex, has been gradually filled with sand that has been blown in through the entrance over thousands of years. These sands remain where they fall and over time they build up to remarkable depths. In the case of Vanguard Cave and Gorham's Cave the deposits are both more than seventeen metres deep. The sands record the environment from 15,000 to 55,000 years ago when the coastline was very different. In the past the sea was over 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) away from the caves whereas it is now very close.

Vanguard Cave (left) and Hyaena Cave (right).

Hyaena Cave, Palaeontological site Image