Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory makes another thought-provoking discovery:
While much of the collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is devoted to The Peak District, it has never been cut off from the wider world. The collection includes some photographs from the caves of Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.
You may have watched a recent documentary on Channel 4 called The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man. The programme was about analysis of DNA and a reconstruction of a hunter-gatherer whose bones were excavated in Gough’s Cave, one of several in Cheddar Gorge. Two photographic slides in Buxton Museum depict the remains in question, while others feature the gorge. One image of a skull with two crossed bones in front of it brings to mind a pirate’s flag.
Since the discovery was made in 1903, much has been learned about prehistory in general and Cheddar Man in particular. Even so, there are still gaps in our knowledge. We don’t know if this man was buried by his tribe or whether he stumbled in to the cave ill or injured and died alone there. The cause of his death isn’t clear. That said, studies of DNA have given us knowledge that the Edwardians could only dream of. We share 10% of our genes with his people. He had blue eyes, curly hair and brown skin.
100 years from now, will our descendants know the answers to questions that baffle us? Or will they still have to ask “who was this person and how did he meet his death?”