I visited Kents Cavern in Devon at Halloween. The caves were almost in complete darkness and my guide spoke of the ancient times when cavemen and animals dwelt there. Kents Cavern is the oldest cave in Britain and stays at 14c all year round. The oldest jawbone in Europe was discovered there and so was a hand axe dating back 450,000 years. These facts and the journey in the dark through the cavern labyrinth fired my imagination. I imagined a “Time Lord” visiting Kents Cavern and the lighting being somewhat different from the bland type being used in publicity shots for the caves. When it was out of season, I was given permission to photograph inside the caves.
I rigged up some 100 watt halogen lights with coloured gels and used a 10-20mm wide-angle lens. I wanted to use a person – imagining them to be a “Time Lord” – to convey the human and ageless aspect of the caves, and acquired a period suit for that person in order to get a sense of nostalgia.
When I was photographing inside the caves, I was aware of the history of “The Face in the Rock” which was revered in Roman times, and Roman soldiers used to offer gifts to it before undertaking perilious journeys or fighting bloody battles. But I was not prepared for the image that developed. At the time of shooting, it was almost impossible to see what was being taken as, in spite of the lights, the cave was exceedingly dark – although It does not appear to be so in the picture.
But nothing prepared me for this enigmatic image. In fact, the owner of Kents Cavern and the guides were as amazed as I was when they saw the picture. Only a few weeks earlier, some ghost hunters and paranormal researchers had spent the whole night in the caves and one felt his hat was being lifted from his head. Is there a supernatural presence in Kents Cavern?
James Hull, the General Manager at Kents Cavern, who spent the night in the caves with them, said: " I have always been a sceptic on ghosts at Kents Cavern, even with all the history of the caves. However, I was very surprised with some of the unusual activity which happened that night. I feel I am a very down-to-earth person who is level-headed, but some of the things I saw just cannot be explained. I would think twice about spending the night underground down in the caves again!"
Kents Cavern has long been rumoured to be haunted, with a strong history going back to the first inhabitants million of years ago. Subsequently the caves were used by smugglers and others leaving a legacy of eerie tales.