Vanguard Cave in the Gorham’s Cave Complex World Heritage Site has lived in the shadow of its sister cave, Gorham’s Cave. The cave was first excavated in 1997 and a project was started in 2012, with the aim of determining if the cave had passages and chambers that were plugged by later sediment.
Several weeks ago archaeologists from the Gibraltar National Museum, nine years on, discovered a large chamber at the very back of Vanguard Cave. Preliminary investigation has revealed a 13-metre chamber on the very roof of the cave. This chamber had been sealed for at least 40 thousand years. Initial surface finds have produced remains of lynx, hyaena and Griffon Vulture as well as scratch marks on the walls, produced by a carnivore as yet to be identified. There is also a large whelk which must have been transported up to the chamber which, even today, is well away from the coast. There is also evidence of ancient earthquakes.
Commenting on the discovery, Minister John Cortes said: “These are exciting finds that open a new chapter of our rich history. Knowing Vanguard cave well, I often wondered what might lie behind the sands. Now we are beginning to get a first glimpse”. The work in this chamber will now continue with the prospect of exciting finds that have remained sealed for over 40 thousand years."