Over the past few months caves have been a sudden interest to me after finding out more about Caving systems within Nottinghamshire. After plently of research I found this cave and thought it would be of interest to pay it a visit. Thor’s Cave (also known as Thor’s House Cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave and many more names) it is a natural cavern located in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire, England.
The views from the cave are simply stunning when you reach the top, just a warning if you are going to visit make sure you are physically fit to rock climb into it and it is very muddy and wet so boots are recommended.
The origin of the name is uncertain, possibly from the word “tor”. There is possible links with the Norse god Thor but evidence is lacking and the original name was Tor cave (a Tor being a rocky outcrop so would fit with the appearance of the cave).
In Norse mythology, Thor (/θɔːr/; from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing and fertility.
What is interesting about this theory is that several people have reported really bad thunderstorms within this area. Here is just one account I found on a forum that encountered one of these storms and was left in doubt if the name ‘Thor’ really did have something to do with the naming of the cave.
During the present hot and dry summer a river(except to Darfur bridge, a little below Wetton mill) has had no existence, yet loud explosions were heard by several persons on the 25th of June, and as well attested as any of the previous ones. Besides, no flood, however great and sudden, could produce an explosion or expulsion of air from the fissure in the rock, which is sixty or seventy yards or more above the bed of the river. The subterranean course throughout is directly beneath the upper or surface one, and, owing to the dislocations of the strati, numerous communications exist betwixt them. Not many of these holes or clefts can be seen on walking along the dry bed, owing to their being covered by blocks of limestone, bouldered grit, stones, and pebbles.
Whilst we were clearing out Thor’s Cave, which overlooks the bed of the river, a heavy thunderstorm, in the distance, suddenly filled the subterranean passage with water, which also flowed down the previously dry bed at the surface, when I witnessed a novel and pretty sight—numerous small jets of water forced up by pent-up air, which indicated tbe progress of infilling in the underground channel.
Noiselessly the puny fountains continued to advance, and the water from below to rise and mingle with the stream above. It is evident, when the communications are so free and requent, that other causes than pent-up air originate the loud reports that issue from the fissure in the rock. With respect to the flames said to be seen after the reports, we have the united testimony of three men, two of whom were certainly highly terrified at the time, but they still positively adhere to their first relation.
The third person was a cool spectator, who went purposely to a neighbouring eminence, and as near as he durst venture, to witness the occurrence.
The jets of water sound truly strange. And you can’t help wondering whether that’s why the cave is ‘Thor’s Cave’ – Thor had a hammer and was responsible for lightning (hence the explosions and the flames?). Yep it’s another of my speculations but I like it.
Flint Flakes found in Thors Cave
Samuel Carrington from Wetton excavated the cave in the 1860’s. His finds included flint artefacts, a stone adze and bronze brooches. The most interesting of the finds was a Neolithic/Bronze Age skeleton buried in an upright position in the clay of the caves floor along with several other skeletal remains making it one of the oldest inhabited sites in the peak district. There was also remains of a now extinct species of bear that was found and some of these items are now on display in the Buxton Museum.
Over the years it has been thought that Thor’s cave is a place for pagan and druid worship and looking in various forums I have found that people often come here to mediate, but have found that their mediation is often blocked by some darker force.
In the 1920’s, a druid from Onecote named Ralph de Tunstall Sneyd, and some of his followers reinstated the Gorsedd ceremony at Thor’s Cave and the
Thor’s Cave was used in the filming of The Verve’s 1993 video for their single “Blue” and is pictured on the front cover of the band’s first album “A Storm in Heaven”. The cave was also used as a location in the 1988 film “The Liar of the White Worm” directed by Ken Russell and starring Hugh Grant.
Thor’s Cave is apparently haunted by a solitary figure who stands at its entrance – it is supposed to be the ghost of a Roman soldier.
Locals also tell of supposed a suppose haunting of someone who commited suicide by throwing themselves down into the gorge below
The Natural History of the County of Stafford by Robert Garner (published 1844) tells us of Thor’s Cavern;
“It’s more usual name is Thur’s house, Thursehole, or Hobhurst Cave.”
The English dialect dictionary by Joseph Wright (published 1898) defines Thurse or Thurs as “an apparition; a goblin”, and Thurse-hole or -house as “a hollow vault in a rock or hill which served as a dwelling”, even making reference to Thor’s Cave!
Notes on Staffordshire Folklore by WP Witcutt (published 1941) adds;
“The fiddling Hobthurse of Thor’s Cave in the Manifold Valley, whose ‘fiddling’ or screeching filled the cavern, was however something more than a harmless sprite. One cannot go far wrong in taking him to be the god to whom sacrifice was offered on the altar in the cave. Thor’s Cave, as a matter of fact, has nothing to do with Thor. Its old name is Thursehole, the cave of the thurse or fairy.”
Wayne Anthony, in Haunted Derbyshire and the Peak District, writes that hidden within the cave is an entrance to the fairy kingdom, though one needs to possess second sight to find it.
The cave is situated quite high and you do have to literally climb into it. When you are in it sure does feel very old and that it somehow holds some mysterious to how ancient world lived.
It appears people do camp here, even with the damp conditions there was little areas where evidence of fires had been present. I have to question if this is just people camping or if pagans and druids do still visit today if possible rituals could be conducted here also.
The fire pits was situated more to be back of the cave, in the area where it really opens up and is extremely dark. The area of the cave I believe Wayne Anthony (mentioned above) could be referring to.
The back of the cave sure does seem to have a mysterious and magical feel to it. Id be very tempted to go back in the summer, maybe with some equipment just to see what I may experience during the night time hours!!