Volume 52 of the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society contained two articles (Salisbury 1986; Tipping 1986) critical of our paper ‘The stratigraphy of Kirkhead Cave, an upper palaeolithic site in northern England’ (Gale and Hunt 1985). Here we reply.
Before dealing with the criticisms made by Salisbury, we correct the factual errors in his paper.
1. Bolton and Morris ‘… excavated through, and ultimately removed some 5 to 7 metres of cave earth…’ (Salisbury 1986, 321). In fact, the reports indicate a maximum depth of excavation of 7 ft (2.1 m) (Bolton 1864, cclii) or 8 ft (2.4 m) (Morris 1865–66, 360, 361; 1866, 169, 170; Bolton 1869, 167–68).
2. Bolton and Morris's ‘… publications are of little value today, and both may be considered to have been “bone hunters” and collectors’ (Salisbury 1986, 321). The assertion that Bolton and Morris's excavation reports are of little value suggests that Salisbury is not familiar with the wealth of early literature on this site. The reports provide a picture of a rich and varied assemblage of artefacts and macrofauna in the unit overlying the stalagmite floor in the cave. Information is also provided on the lithology of that unit. Interpretation of these reports allows the reconstruction of the stratigraphic context of the finds: we direct Salisbury's attention to Gale and Hunt (1985, 296–97) for an indication of the stratigraphic reconstruction possible from the information given in these early publications.