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Previously unpublished correspondence and a re-analysis of events call into question William Buckland's description of his excavation of Paviland Cave in 1823, and illustrate why his interpretation of it changed prior to publication in Reliquiae Diluvianae. Buckland appears to have manipulated the archaeological evidence from Paviland in order to support his ‘Diluvial’ theory. A synthesis of the documentary evidence also illustrates the unrecognized contribution made by John Traherne, FSA and others to the development of Buckland's Paviland story. This paper suggests that modern descriptions and interpretations of Paviland continue to be incorrectly influenced by a reliance on Reliquiae Diluvianae and that the reinterpretation of early archaeological excavations might benefit as much from the application of critical historiographical analyses as from the application of new scientific or theoretical methodologies.