Devil’s Tower Cave hardly deserves to be considered a cave. At best a rather narrow fissure in the north face of the Rock, it lies just across the tower from which it was given its name. It has a maximum height of about 10 meters and is only around a meter wide and approximately four meters in depth. The cave floor is on a rocky outcrop just a few meters above present sea level.
Close-up of the Devil’s Tower Cave ( 1926 – Dorothy Garrod – Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford University )
The cave was discovered jointly by Colonel Willoughby Cole Verner (see LINK) a British officer and ornithologist based in Gibraltar in 1911 together with Henri Édouard Prosper Breuil a well known French archaeologist who is usually referred to as L’Abbe Breuil. They both immediately realised they were on to something important but for various reasons were forced to postpone any serious work on the site.
Colonel Willoughby Cole Verner in the garden of the Mount ( May 1903 - Sarah Angelina Acland (see LINK ) - Courtesy of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford - Colour composite by Giles Hudson )
Henri Édouard Prosper Breuil (Unknown )
In 1917 Verner and Breuil returned to the site and unearthed several stone tools and animal remains and came to the conclusion that this was a place that had been used by Neanderthals as a rock shelter. The excavation was farcically cut short when a military policeman officiously ordered them off the cliff face.
In 1919, armed with a pass given to them by the Governor - which they should have obtained the first time round - they returned once more to the site. Taking into account the fact that the Devil’s Tower Cave was quite close to Forbes’s Quarry Cave where the original but wrongly identified female Neanderthal Skull – Gibraltar 1 - had been found in 1848, they explored the talus in general and found flint tools and other artefacts which they identified as Mousterian and evidence of Neanderthal activity.
Sketch of the North face of the Rock showing the “brecciated talus” between Forbes Quarry (1) and the Devil’s Tower Cave (2)
Between 1925 and 1927, the site was investigated yet again this time by Dorothy Garrod from Cambridge University on the suggestion of L’Abbe Breuil. She excavated the site more thoroughly than previously and was rewarded with the discovery of the skull of a four year old Neanderthal child, - Gibraltar 2. She also went out of her way to prove that archaeologists have a decent sense of humour – she named the Neanderthal child Abel honouring Adam and Eve’s second child.
Dorothy Garrod at the end of WW II where she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Corp ( Late 1940s - Unknown )
Photographs of the Devil’s Tower Cave excavation site taken by Dorothy Garrod ( 1926 – 1927 - Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford University )
The Devil’s Tower Site - The fellow in white is standing in front of a raised beach ( 1928 – Journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute – photograph by Beanland, Malin ) (See LINK)
Drawing by local historian George Palao ( 1977 )