Cave of Horrors

In what seems like the opening scene of a horror movie, British cavers discovered hundreds of centuries-old protective marks and ritualistic drawings apparently designed to capture, trap and/or repel evil forces in an ancient cave system about 150 miles north of London.

The drawings date to the medieval and early modern periods and were found before but dismissed as graffiti from more recent eras.

Members of Subterranea Britannica noticed that the etchings were actually apotropaic (protective) marks scrawled all over wells, ceilings and around holes and crevices, the cave’s operator said in a news release.

Also, caves have “operators” apparently.

The etchings include diagonal lines, boxes and mazes believed to be spells for capturing or trapping evil spirits. There are also ‘VV’ marks that are believed to represent Mary, “Virgin of Virgins,” as well as ‘PM’, for “Pace Maria.”

But it’s not clear what, specifically, the markings were trying to stymie.

The caves have a history of being occupied by Neanderthals as far back as 50,000 years ago, followed then by Homo sapiens. The site is known for the art on its walls dating to some 12,000 years ago, including images of bison, reindeer, birds, as well as more abstract symbols.

The cave may now also be home to another kind of art altogether.

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