EuroSpeleo 2016 Sessions

Caverns of the Mind: Science and the Imagination in 18th Century Caves

Session code: OG6

Oral / General, Main EuroSpeleo Conference

Mr Frank Pearson


John Hutton's 'A Tour to the Caves of the West Riding of Yorkshire' of 1781 was the first book in Britain solely dedicated to caves and caving. It is an extraordinary book as it is part tour guide, part cave guide; it includes poetry, natural history, theories on cave geomorphology and climate and concludes with a glossary of northern dialect words. Though independently published it was also in the appendix of the best selling 'A Guide to the Lakes' by Thomas West. It inspired travellers to visit the caves of Yorkshire, such as the poet, William Wordsworth, and the painter, William Westall but it also drew on the context of cave exploration from around the country, on the development of cave science and on thousands of years as the cave as the mythic underworld. It is a landmark of caving history in the UK.


40 years caving, exploration in UK, Spain, China and Malaysia. Currently finishing the third year of a PhD at Lancaster University on the experience and representation of caves in 17th and 18th Century Britain, with evidence from travel, literature, philosophy and science.


Member of Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club, British Cave Research Association.