Monday, 18 February 2013

The Cave of Vortigern Margate, Kent 11/12-02/13

Visited with Obscurity Stealth SpaceInvader UrbanGinger and Fortknox0 and on two different visits

Nice to get back in here with a dslr as last time was early days and a camera fone,its not huge but was worth going back for a better look

The origins of these caves, which are not natural but built by man, is shrouded in mystery. The caves may take their name from Vortigern, who supposedly gave the area around Margate to the Saxons as a reward for helping him fight the Picts and Scots. Rediscovered by accident in 1798, the caves are considered by some to be of Saxon origin, consisting of a series of natural passages, which have been artificially enlarged. However, few experts think these 'artificial cavities' (as they are called) go back that far. The first time they appear in history is fairly recent. The guide book would have the visitor believe that the caves are over a 1000 years old and possible even of Phoenician origin! The more likely explanation would perhaps be a more modest medieval origin, or even a Georgian folly. Locally they put the Shell Grotto down as a Victorian folly built at a time when the local shell fish industry would have produced enough shells for them to be freely available (being a by-product).

Somewhere near the close of the 18th Century, a man of eccentric habits, named Francis Forster, built a large house in Margate which he named after the county of his birth - Northumberland House. In or about the year 1798 his gardener, digging behind the house, made the discovery of the Caves. A private entrance was cut. It was during this time that the cave murals were created. In 1914, a new entrance was made from the cellar of the vicarage and this is the entrance used today