History of the Village of Stoney Middleton

By Thomas E. Cowen (1910)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2003

History of the Village of Stoney MiddletonTHE CAEL'S WARK OR GAEL'S WARK CAVERN


Near this rock is the Cael's or Gael's Wark Cavern, in which the body of the Scotch pedlar who was murdered in the Old Moon Inn yard was found about 1763. His clothes, shoes, and buckles assisted the work of identifying the decomposed remains. The bones, etc., were deposited in a large box, which stood in a corner of the north aisle of Eyam Church, in view of a more certain identification, later, however the bones were interred, but Matthew Hall, king of

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Eyam ringers, wore the shoes to the last. A woman, the principal of this dark deed, died miserably of cancer.

  “For now the Scotchman issued from the cave
Of Caelswark dark, his sepulchre and grave,
Throat cut and gory, gaping, ghastly corse
Which passed him dangling on the murderer's horse.”
 R. Furness.

It has been explored to the extent of about 200 paces, when a deep water prevented further progress. The roof is in some places so low that the cavern cannot be penetrated in an erect position; in others the passage is of considerable capacity, and it furnishes many beautiful crystalizations. It is a dreary hole, and the entrance into it is now nearly closed up by the falling of a mass of rubbish from above.

“About 44 years ago some workmen were clearing the rubbish from the rock near the noted cavern of Caelswark, in Middleton Dale. They discovered a pair of bracelets or Armillæ made of base silver covered with at least 8 feet of gravel. On examination they were found to be a very good base silver alloyed with copper, etc., and appeared to have been much worn, for a portion of the pattern is obliterated. Each termination of the bracelet has the same rude attempt at snake head ornamentation. We may safely assign these relics to the 2nd or 3rd centuries. Mr. Bagshaw purchased them, and doubtless presented them to Lomber Dale Museum, ;near Youlgreave”. - “The Reliquary”, 1867-8.
[Ed: A sketch of the Armillæ is reproduced opposite Page 50]

The Merlin Cavern is situated near Middleton Dale in Rock Gardens. This cavern, which is rich in stalacites and stalagmites. was re-opened a few years ago, but the roof has now fallen in places.

  “Where Merlin's Cave beneath a hanging shade
Stalagmi graced the encrusted marble roof,
Form'd here a prison, and here a crystal cone,
There bees impendent, round a hive of stone.”
 R. Furness.

Charleswark (Gaels Wark) is at the foot of a rock 93 yards yards high. The entrance is 6 yards high and 8 yards wide. The pedestrian can walk on 5½ yards and arrives at an impassable deep stagnant pool or lake, which opens into Eyam Dale, about half a mile distant. By another grotto it opens near Foolow about a mile and half away and passes under Eyam Church.

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The highest rock is called Windy Torr, from the top of which, to the Mouth of BOSSEN HOLE (Bossen in this Country Dialect means Badger) is 55 yards in height, and from the Hole to the Brookside the distance is 30 yards. The entrance to the cavern is by a small foot road about a yard broad like a walk in the Middle of the Rock.. The entrance in is of the same breadth but 5 feet higher. This would form an excellent shelter for sheep.

Dr. Short, writing in 1734, says: BAMFORTH HOLE (or the “Wonders”) is 49 yards from the, top of the rock. The entrance is 5 feet high, and the pedestrian goes on shoulder foremost for 40 yards, and then comes a rise of 13 yards (in all the way it is not a yard wide). Then there is a step to climb, 6 feet high, when the traveller enters the middle of a large cave, in which are vast stalacititious petrefactions. Leaving the Cave, go 25 yards forwards, you see a magnificent subterranean State Room, 9 yards wide and 2 yards high, the most stately and awful Dome I ever saw. There are numbers of various kinds of beautiful transparent statues with several regular ranks of fine pyramids and other curious figures, some on pedestals and others reaching the roof, as though wishing to support this 'Reproach of Art'.

In the middle of this room is a basin 3 yards long and 2 wide. On each side of this is a statuary pillar of stalactites on finely polished marble, and another in the middle upon a pedestal. There is a small passage, a few feet down, leading to several eaves underneath. The roof is adorned with shells here generated and generating sundry colours.

I went 364 yards into the cave and saw no end, but the passages are going on under the whole mountain like coney burrows.

End of Chapter XIII: => THE WAKES

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2003.

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