|New discovery: The giant underground chamber, named
The Frozen Deep, that has recently been found inside Cheddar
Gorge in Somerset.
The huge space, which had been named 'The Frozen Deep' by the team, is a staggering 60 metres in diameter and reaches up to 30 metres high.
It contains stunning calcite formations - including two pure white columns each standing at five-metres tall - surrounded by white flowstone on the walls and floor.
'Tuesday Diggers', a group of local cave divers, discovered the chamber after spending four hours a week for four years digging, breaking rocks and opening 50cm passages.
Hugh Cornwell, director of Cheddar Gorge and Caves, in Somerset, said: 'This is a truly significant discovery by the 'Diggers' which opens up a fascinating new chapter in the history of Mendip cave exploration.
'The question already emerging is whether they can now find a connection from The Frozen Deep to the River Cave.
'They will now consolidate their find by taping out walkways to protect the calcite formations from damage and carry out laser surveys of all the chambers, before allowing a limited number of cavers under their supervision to visit The Frozen Deep.''For the moment, however, cavers across Mendip will celebrate the courage, endurance and spectacular achievements of the Diggers.
The Diggers have been given exclusive access by Longleat, which owns Cheddar Gorge, for the past four years to dig in 'Reservoir Hole' which is 150 metres east of the famous Pinnacles in Cheddar Gorge.
They concentrated on a side passage of the main cave and eventually broke through to a 20m long rift, then removed a large slab to crawl a further 15m into another chamber, 25m high and 20m long, which they named 'Resurrection Chamber'.
|The 60 metre by 30 metre cave contains
stunning calcite formations up to five-metres tall
Last Tuesday, the team returned to the site with rope and tackle and descended the pitch into the largest chamber ever discovered under the Mendip Hills.
The caves are formed by the action of water wearing away limestone as it seeps through the rocks.
The phenomenon has made Mendip a national centre for caving. One famous cave, Swildon Hole, is six miles long.
Some caves have been found to contain tonnes of prehistoric animal bones, while one, Aveline's Hole in Burrington Combe, has been identified as the earliest scientifically dated human cemetery, with remains up to 10,400 years old.
Source: Daily Mail