A protected prehistoric cave with an extensive labyrinth of spectacular and easily accessible caverns open daily all year. Kents Cavern is a fascinating Stone Age site, home to three different species of humans and the oldest human fossil discovered in north west Europe; making Kents Cavern Britain’s oldest home.

The cave’s geology is internationally significant and is a gateway to the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark. The cavern’s archaeology has fascinated many of Britain’s pioneering scientists, Rev Buckland, Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace and William Pengelly in particular and it has inspired Beatrix Potter and Agatha Christie.

The site has evidence of human occupation, in the same location, by three separate species of ancient humans; Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapien and the caves contain a long sequence of human and animal deposits beginning during the lower Palaeolithic, the old Stone Age, right through to the post-prehistoric period. Two major stalagmite floors provide dating evidence for archaeological material. The upper floor seals material more than 12,000 years ago, while the lower floor seals deposits older than 350,000 years.

The limestone rock surrounding the caves was formed during the Devonian period some 385 million years ago when this part of the world lay beneath the sea south of the Equator. The shells and bones from the earliest forms of life to live on this planet bonded together at the bottom of the ocean to form the Coralline Devonian Limestone.

The caves were extensively excavated during the last two centuries when the floors were methodically and carefully removed to reveal a wealth of prehistoric archaeology (over 80,000 artefacts). The first major excavation lasted 15 years between 1865-1880 and was masterminded by William Pengelly. He pioneered a 3-dimensional recording technique used to support the controversial nature of his work, to prove the Antiquity of Man, and put Kents Cavern on the map for early development of Earth sciences in Britain. After 15 years William Pengelly drew his Great Excavation to a close and he appointed his foreman, George Smerdon custodian of the cavern. His son-in-law Francis Francis purchased the caves in 1903 and became owner of this most important prehistoric site. Today, Nick Powe 5th generation owner of the cave runs the business with his wife Sheena.

On your visit, you’ll go back to a time when the cave was home to ancient humans, who were once sheltering from extreme weather, making fires, shaping tools and hunting Ice Age beasts. As you walk through the cave system you’ll be surrounded by 400-million-year-old rocks and spectacular stalagmites and stalactites!