Royston Cave

by Tony Oldham

In August 1742 some workmen, digging in Royston, uncovered a cavity. This proved to be the famous Royston cave, and as it was half filled with earth and rubble, the townspeople, hopeful of finding treasure, set about excavating it.

The cave appeared to consist of a bell shaped chamber 26 feet high and 17 feet in diameter, and whilst it did not contain treasure, its walls were covered with sculptures of a unique nature. This is, in fact, one of the few caves in England which contains sculptures of any kind.

Today the entrance is not by the original opening, but by a passage dug in 1790 and it is still possible to appreciate the sculptures which are almost as good today as when they were completed, possibly 800 years ago.

It is thought that the sculptures were originally coloured, but little trace of this is visible now. For the most part they represent scenes of religious significance, amongst them the Crucifixion and various saints, including a splendid portrayaI of St. Christopher.

The fact that these sculptures are of uncertain antiquity adds to their interest and offers visitors a chance to speculate on their origins.

Text from: Tony and Anne Oldham (1972): Discovering Caves - A guide to the Show Caves of Britain. With kind permission by Tony Oldham.