KENT'S CAVERN, or KENT* BOLE, a celebrated bone-cave, situated in a small, wooded, .limestone hill, at the junction of two valleys, about a mile eastward from Torquay harbor, and half a mile from the northern shore of Torbay. It consists of two parallel series of chambers and galleries, having an approximately north and south direction. The aggregate length of the eastern series is upwards of 250 ft., and the western is probably longer. It has two narrow external openings or entrances, in the face of one and the same low natural cliff, on the eastern side of the hill, and both opening into the eastern suite of apartments. They are nearly on the same level, about 50 ft. apart, 70 ft. above the bottom of the valley immediately beneath, and from 180 to 190 ft. above the level of mean tide.
Nothing is known respecting the origin of its name, and tradition fails to reach back to the date of the discovery of the cavern. The earliest known mention of it is in A Tour through the Island of Great Britain, 1778. At that time it appears to have been much visited by the curious; but it did not attract the attention of scientific inquirers until Sept., 1824, when Mr. Northmore visited it with the "double object of discovering organic remains, and of ascertaining the existence of a temple of Mithras." Ile declared himself "happy to say that he was successful in both objects." • In 1825 the rev. J. /rIcEnery commenced those researches which extended at inter vals over fully four years, and has forever associated his name with the cavern. He made arrangements for the publication of an illustrated narrative of his labors; but the intention was unfortunately abandoned. After his decease it was feared that his MSS. had been lost or destroyed; but after a variety of fortune, they ultimately became the property of the Torquay natural history society, and were published in extenso by Mr. Pengellv in 1869. in the Transactions of the Devonshire association.
Mr. McEnery's labors may be thus summed up: (1) In the cave-earth, beneath a thick floor of stalagmite, he discoveredremains of upwards of 20 species of extinct and recent animals commingled. Amongst them were a few teeth of nwehairodus Widens,. a species
not met with elsewhere in Britain, and which many paleontologists hesitated to place in the cave fauna. Mixed up with those remains, and under precisely the same condi tions, he found a considerable number of human flint "implements." Though the inosculation of human industrial remains with the bones of extinct mam mals was confirmed by the subsequent researches of Mr. Godwin-Austen in the same cavern, and later still by those of the Torquay natural history society, even scientific men were unprepared for it, and it was either discredited or explained away. In 1858, however, a virgin cavern was discovered at Brixham, on the opposite side of Torbay, and was systematically and carefully explored by a committee, under the auspices of the royal and geological societies of London. The results obtained were so perfectly trustworthy, and so strictly confirmatory of the statements which from time to time had been reported from Kent's Hole, that it began to be generally suspected that the latter were, after all, worthy of credence.
As a result of this feeling, the British association, in 1804, appointed a committee— consisting of sir C. Lyell, sir J. Lubbock, Mr. Evans, Mr. Pengelly, prof. Phillips, and Mr. Vivian; to whom Mr. Busk, Mr. Boyd Dawkins, Mr. Sanford, and Mr. Lee were subsequently added—to make a complete and systematic exploration of so much of Kent's Cavern as still remained intact. The committee have carried on their recarehes without intermission, and presented full annual reports from 1865 onwards. The wcr is placed under the superintendence of two of the members, who visit.the cavern daily. The method of exploration is so simple as to be easily carried on by the work men, and so accurate as to render it easy to determine the exact position in which every object was found.