Breaking News: treasure discovered in secret passage of Poole’s Cavern!

A discovery of treasure in an unexplored passage at Buxton’s famous show cave has got everyone wondering ‘could this be the legendary outlaw Poole’s long-lost hoard?’

An exciting and historical discovery has been made at the famous Buxton limestone show cave known as Poole’s Cavern, thrusting the site into the spotlight and setting hearts racing and imaginations running wild.

News broke this morning of a supposed hidden treasure trove uncovered deep within the cavern's remote passages over the Easter weekend, sparking a frenzy of excitement among the staff and regular visitors. Could it be the legendary outlaw Poole’s long-lost hoard?

Poole was an outlaw from Staffordshire who used the cave in the early 15th century to elude the search of his pursuers, crossing into Derbyshire, beyond their county jurisdiction. He reportedly hid his booty of stolen gold coins, gemstones and jewellery in the cave. No known documentation has survived, but his legend has been passed down over the centuries and so tied to the cave that it still bears his name.

Cryptic clues

According to the reports, an unexplored tunnel was stumbled upon by a group of cave explorers who claimed to have followed a series of cryptic clues discovered after analysis of signs etched into the cavern's walls had been undertaken: photos, like that below, can be seen in the exhibition space at Poole’s Cavern Visitor Centre. Previously thought to be Victorian graffiti, the signs and scrawled signatures are now thought to date back beyond the 15th century.

Image: The marks on the wall that led to the discovery. Source: Buxton Civic Association

Unexplored passage

After navigating through some of the upper passages in the cave, which are not normally open to the public, they stumbled upon a previously unexplored side passage. Robin Irwin who was leading the group takes up the story.

“We were surprised by the passage as it did not appear on any of the maps or diagrams that we have. The passage was small and only one person was able to enter. It was really more of an enlarged crack in the wall. We also noticed that at the end of the passage there was a sign, similar to the ones we had been analysing, etched onto the rocks”

Intrigued, the group agreed to return to the spot the next evening and brought with them some digging tools.

Wooden box

It was clear that the floor of the passage had been disturbed and, after about an hour of digging and scraping, the group hit a wooden box.

“You can only imagine our excitement.” Robin continued.

Carrying the box back to the Visitor Centre, they debated whether to open it or to seek specialist advice. In the end, excitement won the day and the box, which was in a very fragile state, was carefully opened.

Just as the legend says, a hoard of gold coins, gemstones and jewellery lay within!

Image: A picture of the Poole’s Cavern hoard. Source: Buxton Civic Association

Also inside, resting on top and wrapped in a wax cloth, was a document in a reasonable state of preservation. It was hard to decipher the scribbled words written on it, but it purported to be from a Solomon Poole and, from the brief fragments of legible writing, it was understood to be a record of the exploits of his father, Adam Poole, the notorious outlaw of legend.

Dave Green BCA CEO commented
“This is a fantastic find for us at Poole’s Cavern and for the town. It will fit in perfectly with our exhibition plans and the opening of the new displays next year.”

This is the first contemporaneous record found of Poole and, as such, could be considered the real treasure.

Scientific analysis

The group, after the initial excitement of hitting the jackpot subsided, began to carefully remove the items of precious treasure. Or so they thought.

Before the fragile document could be photographed, water was accidentally spilt on it and it dissolved! Confused, the group poured more water on it and it completely disappeared!
Concluding that it must have been made of rice paper or sugar paper, attentions turned to the gold coins. After careful, forensic analysis, biting one to check it was real gold, they turned out to be made of out of chocolate!

And just to top it off, the ‘jewellery’ was seemingly made out of spun caramel, the ‘gemstones’ from candied sweets and the ‘wooden box’ out of painted sugar-paste.

Either someone has been practicing for a bake-off competition, or they’ve played a prank! Honestly, who would think of such a thing on the first day of April?

Discover the real treasures for yourself

By now, the discerning reader will have realised that this is our contribution to April Fools’ Day. We hope you enjoyed our little bit of fun.

But why not come and visit us and discover the real treasures of the famous show cave for yourself.

To book tickets, go to the link below.

If a treasure hoard ever was discovered in Poole’s Cavern, one of our first ports of call would be the Buxton Museum & Art Gallery.

Sadly, it is still closed. If you would like to show your support for the museum, please sign the petition set up by Vision Buxton. Click on the link below.