An odd word. Lumpy and unattractive even, as if it’s wearing, heavy, mud-caked boots. It means someone who lives in a cave, but has darker, associations. Someone who lives in a cave must be a primitive, even a savage, with no notion of the finer things in life like culture and art – right? So the term ‘Troglodyte’ is a term of abuse, for those seen as especially narrow-minded.
But caves have always fascinated me. Since I visited Mother Shipton’s Petrifying Cave as a child, they have always seemed a place of wonder, where I could be both thrilled and terrified in equal measure. Caves are under our feet, hidden in the landscape, refuges, and escape holes, places for magic, and otherworldly in their beauty. Rivers run through secret channels, waterfalls tumble into pools, and whole new kingdoms are waiting to be discovered. Caverns dripping with stalactites, glossy with marble calcite have been there for thousands of years, barely changing over millennia.
And oddly caves provided the canvas for much of the earliest art in the world.