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Clapham Cave

August 30, 2010

District: Clapham

Parish: St Ann

WGS84 L/L: By request only

JAD2001: By request only

JAD69: By request only

Altitude: 385m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 5m horizontal; +/- 10m vertical


Type: Dry passage

Accessibility: Walk-in

Depth: 25m

Length: 50m

Explorers: Leeds, 1963

Survey: None

JU Ref: Pg 122

JU Map: N/A

Entrance size: 6m wide, 3m high

Entrance aspect: Not noted

Vegetation in general locale: Scrub/farm

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Geology: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Poor

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None seen

Archaeo resources: Petroglyphs

Hydrology: Dry

Dark zone: 0%

Climate: ~24, dry

Bats: 500-1000

Bat guano: Little

Guano mining: Occasional

Guano condition: very minor deposits of fresh/fluff, and wet

Visitation: Occasional

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: Some

Trash: Much

Ownership: Windalco

Protection: None

Vulnerability: High

Clapham Cave
August 30, 2010
Team: RS Stewart, D Selvyn, Carlos
Notes: RS Stewart

Clapham Cave was visited in response to an enquiry from a friend in Pollyground as to whether we knew of the cave. We didn’t, it was convenient to do on this, the last day of fieldwork, and an associate, Carlos, was familiar with the district. Accordingly, it became the last site assessed during the August-July 2010 session of fieldwork. The team consisted of Stewart, Selvyn, and Carlos (who stayed at the entrance).

First, we must mention the disagreement between what we found, and what is given in Jamaica Underground.

From JU: “Depth: 25m. Length: 15m. At Clapham, 200m south of the village, 150m west of the road. A gully leads to a 6m wide entrance to a 3m pitch which ends on a 15m boulder descent into a choked chamber, 12m in length.”

Petroglyphs at Clapham What we found: The entrance is located 50m NW of the road, and basically in Clapham (the village is spread out). The width is about 6m. There is no 3m pitch, but there is a built, concrete staircase where it might have been, which was put in for tourist use. Beyond this, there is a bouldery stretch about 15m long, with a gradual, easy descent. After a short level section, there is a lighthole on the right. Then, there is a breakdown chamber area that is more like 20m long, although we did not measure it. The total length of the cave is closer to 50m than 15. The width varies from about 6m to 15m as one goes inward.

The site we visited is locally well known, and we heard of no others. We do not understand the discrepancy in length, but the odds are good that it is indeed the listed site.

The most notable feature of the cave is the presence of Taino petroglyphs on the left side of the south-facing entrance chamber. There was no mention of these in JU, but because the site seemed promising in this regard, a careful search by Stewart soon found two, sketched in this report. The floor is sandy, and could be dug.

The total number of bats is roughly between 500 and 1000, with at least Artibeus jamaicensis present, and probably at least one other species (based on a visual inspection). Capture and release netting will be complicated by the lighthole further into the cave also serving as an exit. It is roughly 2m+ in width, and may be able to be covered. The main entrance should be suitable for a harp trap if work is done to block the area on either side with tarps.

Cave crickets are numerous. One amblypygid was noted. No roaches were seen.

There is much trash in the cave, although most of it is old metal, rather than household garbage. Also, someone lived here at some point – a mattress and old clothes were seen not far in, on the right.

Guano mining has taken place in the past, and there are currently no real accumulations, just thin patches of fresh/fluff, and about 1cm of wet guano on some boulders.

According to the local people, Windalco owns the land external to the entrance.

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