Brimble Pit and Cross Swallet

Useful Information

Location: On the road between Wookey Hole and Priddy, 2.4 km from Wookey Hole, 1.9 km from Priddy. From Parking lot Deerleap.
(51.253597, -2.705602)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstDoline KarstPonor
Light: n/a.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1957 northern shaft in Brimble Pit excavated.
1968 designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).
1991 Brimble Pit Swallet excavated by William Stanton.
1992 Brimble Pit Swallet excavated by William Stanton.


Brimble Pit and Cross Swallet Basins is a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In an area of about 150 ha numerous karst features can be found, primarly swallow holes and dolines. Some swallow holes allow access to the caves behind, but those are strictly for cavers and very dangerous. Nevertheless, the surface features of this area are very impressive and easy to visit on a short walk. Two adjacent karstic basins are draining into two swallow holes, one into Brimble Pit, the other into Cross Swallet.

Brimble Pit is a large depression covered by old lake sediments, pitted with sinkholes. The sediments are the remains of a former Pleistocene lake. It was excavated by the caver William Stanton to access the cave below. When he discovered archaeological material he separated it from the removed debris for archaeological examination. Below the sediments two shafts were discovered. The northern shaft gives access to the cave below, while the southern shaft was blocked at the bottom by rocks. Because of this blockkage is was filled completely with sediments, which were excavated by Stanton to a depth of -8 meters. 200 pieces of flint, animal bones showing evidence of butchery, human bones and 42 sherds of Grooved Ware pottery were found in the sediments.

But the most important discover was a polished greenstone axehead, discovered below the shafts, where they meet again. It was in such perfect condition that it was most likely never used as an axe. It was probably thrown into the shaft for religious purposes, as an offering. However, there are no damages which could appear after it has been thrown into a 10 m deep, narrow, rocky shaft. The findings are rather enigmatic, but it seems the swallow holes of the area were used by Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age man for rituals involving the deposition of artifacts and human remains. The whole area shows numerous megalithic remains, like standing stone, stone circles and so forth. Stonehenge and Woodhenge are not far away.

Cross Swallet is a single active sinkhole.