New Dating Shows Welsh Cave Art is Even Older

July 2, 2012 / Wales, United Kingdom, Europe
An Engraving of a Reindeer in a South Wales Cave

Photo by George Nash

Further research to determine the age of the reindeer rock art in Cathole cave on Britain’s Gower Peninsula has revealed an even earlier date.

Uranium-thorium dating has now revealed that the artwork was created at least 14,505 ago, plus or minus 560 years, nearly 2,000 years older than previously thought.

This adds to the speculation that the engraving of a the reindeer in the South Wales cave could be the oldest rock art found in Britain.

The earlier date is comparable with Uranium-series dating of flowstone that covers engraved figures within Church Hole Cave at Creswell along the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border. However, the new minimum date of 14,505 + 560 years BP makes the engraved reindeer in South Wales the oldest rock art in the British Isles, if not North-western Europe. George Nash, University of Bristol archeologist

The difficult to make out engraving was first discovered by University of Bristol archeologist George Nash while he was exploring the rear section of cave during a visit with a group in September 2010.

Since its discovery the location of the engraving is being kept secret to try prevent vandalism, unfortunately this did little to stop the hoodlums who covered the artwork over with mud, lit fires, removed formations and etched graffiti into the walls over the winter. Only now are steps being taken to secure the cave, which is also an important bat roost.

U-series dating suggests Welsh reindeer is Britain’s oldest rock art [University of Bristol]

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