BONES dating back more than 4,000 years have been found at Castleton’s Blue John Cavern.
The discovery was made by Litton speleologist Dave Nixon and his wife Kate while they were conducting a survey of the cave to produce a new three dimensional map.
Among the bones which have been found are an adult human tibia, a dog skull, the antler of a red deer, the pelvis of an aurochs, a large cattle like animal which is now extinct, and rodent jaws.
After successfully applying for a grant from the Cave Research Association, the human tibia bone was sent to Professor Andrew Chamberlain of Sheffield University for carbon dating.
This provided a date of between 2800BC and 2500BC, making the bone more than 4,000 years old.
Dave said: “The first big find was quite obviously a bit of antler from a red deer which had started to calcify so that gave us an idea of how old it was.
“We think it’s fair to assume that because the bones were found in the same area they’re from the same era.
“We’re almost certain that 4,000 odd years ago when the geology was very different, there was a big river which sunk into a hole and washed in the bones and all the rest of it.
“The rest of him or her (the person the tibia bone came from) is almost certainly in the same hole.”
And speaking of the tiny rodent jaws which were also found, Dave said: “It’s amazing that something as fragile as that has been preserved in a cave for 4,000 years.”
The bones are set to go on display at the cavern for visitors to enjoy.
Any further discoveries will also be added to the display.
Graham Ollerenshaw, owner of the Blue John Cavern, added: “I just think it is amazing that these bones have lain there all these years for Dave to suddenly stumble upon quite by accident.
“It’s quite exciting to think there might be other things there to find in the future.”