Cave Legends

Subterranean Urban Legends

Caves are often asociated with legends, stories, or local lure. Some of those stories are of historic origin, some are true, others are a sort of subterranean urban legends.

So here is a small list of common urban legends about caves and other underground structures:

  1. The Far Conection Legend: This legend tells that the cave is connected to a place far away. Typically this place is a landmark or of historic importance, and it is too far away for the actual cave, eg. the cave is 500m long and it is connected to a river 15km apart by a now colapsed passage. Or there is a cellar or short tunnel and the legend tells about a 15km long tunnel which was walled and the place forgotten.
  2. The Hidden Treasure Legend: A castle needs a ghost, a cave needs a treasure. The story is always similar: someone hid a treasure inside the cave, but told nobody, then died and the exact location was forgotten. Many of those stories have an additional twist. The treasure is stolen, the thief hides inside the cave, he is finally found and in the try to catch him he is killed. But when the thief and the cave is search the stolen treasure is gone.
  3. The Mysterious Rediscovery: This story is simple and reminds us of hydrogeologic dye tracing experiments: somthing is thrown into a cave river and reappears far away, which proves the connection. However, the kind of stories we talk about here are different, they lack a suitable dye. Instead fish, geese, ducks, or pieces of bark are thrown into the water. A dog is lost after chasing a fox into a cave entrance or a sheep is lost inside a cave. Even jewelery or keys are lost inside a cave. And the mysterious thing is how they reappear: several days later and far away, with now simple explanation how they got there. The only possible solution to this mystery is a so far unknown underground passage.

One could ask how the 15km long tunnel was constructed during the Middle Ages, when 3.5m of tunnel required 1 year of work by a miner. To construct such a tunnel 40 miners must have worked 100 years. How should a passage have been formed and collapsed with no signs of a collapse. Most likely a look at a geologic map will tell you that natural formation is impossible.

The same with the treasure: could be possible, but if it really existed the people would have searched for it and found it long ago. It is more likely that there never was a treasure or the one who discovered it decided not to tell anybody. In most cases there never was a treasure, because as it goes treasures are rather rare at all, and a robbery is a good chance to cover an embezzlement by claiming the lost money was part of the booty.

These stories sound almost plausible at the first sight. But at the second sight, some math can prove them wrong. The probablility of such a story is extremely low, despite it sounding plausible. But the fact that stories with the same plot are told about hundreds of places all over the world makes them even more unlikely. It might be possible that something unlikely happened once, but that it happened this often is simply weird.

So how do you handle those stories? Dont be fooled and enjoy them as a nice piece of entertainment.