Mesolithic Hunter Gatherers cleared the rainforest
One look at the way mist gathers in the folds and gullies of this rugged landscape is enough to persuade me that this used to be a rainforest.
Dartmoor is changeable with a huge variety of weather, mostly wet. Watching the morning mist slowly clear from the valleys as the day warms up is to watch streams of wet air behave as if it were liquid water across the land. Flowing downhill in currents and streams that get so excited they swell and become wispy and frond-like. Eventually evaporating into the clear Dartmoor sky.
The early inhabitants of this region wouldn’t have has such a view until they cleared away the ancient oak forest, read: rainforest. When the oaks were gone the area regenerated itself as open moorland. Just as we see today.
The cavern was excavated in the most sophisticated manner in 1856 – a grid was plotted and finds were mapped this way for the first time, although this most organised approach did come after several much rougher attempts.
Speaking of which, shout out to William Petre, who in 1571 scored his name on a stalagmite in the cave.
Interest in the cave system grew, along with contention, as the implications of finding Homo-sapien bones that appeared to be very early human, along with man-made artefacts dating back half a million years, was at odds with the Creationist orthodoxy that prevailed at the time.
If you are interested in global warming you may be intrigued to learn that Kents Cavern used to be closer to the sea than it is currently, due to a lowering of the sea level between when it was first occupied and today.