Wookey Hole Caves

In the 18th century when Alexander Pope visited the caves, he had several stalactites shot down as souvenirs. Today,
the caves are home to horseshoe bats, moths, cave spiders, frogs,eels, and freshwater shrimp.
Hyena Den, Badger Hole, and Rhinoceros Hole are the names of caves in the complex of Wookey Hole in Somerset, southern England. The names derive from some of the tropical and ice-age animals that have been unearthed in the caves.
About 400 million years ago, a large ocean covered the Mendips. When the microscopic creatures that swam these seas died, their shells fell to the ocean bed and turned into calcium carbonate (limestone), which later hardened into rock. When falling sea levels exposed the rock, rainwater dissolved the weaknesses and widened cracks. Deep in the earth, the River Axe broke through fissures in the blocks of limestone and enlarged caverns.
The dry caves later offered a safe habitat, with a constant temperature of 52°F (1ГС). The first human lodgers came some 50,000 years ago, hunting bears and rhinoceros with stone weapons. Archeologists believe that one cave, Hyena Den, was alternately occupied by hyenas and man between 35,000 and 25,000 b.c.e. In the Iron Age, Celtic farmers lived near the cave entrance for more than 600 years.
Two thousand years ago, the Romans settled here, built roads, and exploited the rich mineral resources of the Mendip Hills. Not a lot is known of the ensuing history of the caves until the 18th century, when the poet Alexander Pope visited and had several stalactites shot down as souvenirs. Today, the caves are home to horseshoe bats, moths, cave spiders, frogs, eels, and freshwater shrimp.
Wookey Hole is the birthplace of British cave diving, and Cathedral Cave is one of the most famous in British caving history. Known as Chamber 9 by experienced cavers, this was to become a diving base for all future explorations of the cave system. It is 100 feel (30 meters) high, with waters over 70 feet (21 meters) deep. Its vast walls glow a colorful red with iron oxide and shine with “flowstone” stalactite formations.
Lurking in the shadows of the cave wall is the witch of Wookey Hole—a limestone rock formation that is eerily shaped like a witch, complete with crooked nose and protruding chin. Locals in the 18th century believed the witch was an evil old woman—and that a local monk sprinkled her with holy water turning her into stone.