Tratman Award

The prestigious Tratman Award is awarded annually for a caving-related paper-based publication in memory of E.K. Tratman, who died in 1978, to recognise excellence and encourage future improvement - it is considered to be one of the UK's premier national caving awards. Initially administered by the Ghar Parau Foundation and first awarded for the publications of 1979, the Tratman Award's management was passed to the British Cave Research Association in 2019. It is judged by a team of independent cavers who make their recommendation for the award to BCRA's committee for ratification.

This page presents the rules for the award; separate pages list past winners and commended publications and citations.


1. The award may be granted to an author, editor or publisher with the following provisos:

  • The recipient must be British or Irish by birth or nationality, or
  • A person based in the UK or Ireland as his or her principal domicile for a minimum of three years, or
  • A British- or Irish-based publisher that has rendered a particular service for supporting caving publications

The intent is that the Tratman Award is British- or Irish-based, but not that the publication must occur in the UK or Ireland, or that it must go to a British national even if publication occurred in the UK or Ireland.

2. All publications conforming to the above requirements are eligible and may be considered by the judges. These could therefore include books and journals in their entirety, but might also include individual articles within a magazine or journal or a specific chapter within a multi-authored book, or even a journal series, at the judges’ discretion. Multi-authored works are eligible. No distinction is made between commercial and club-based publications; it is the quality of publication that counts.

3. No set of three (or more) judges can have the time or resources to read every caving publication, but all major publications are likely to be seen. If any person wishes a specific publication to be considered for the award, they should bring this to the judges’ attention before the end of a calendar year (use the Contacts link at the bottom).

4. The award will be made on the basis of a caving-related publication that is printed on paper, being published during the preceding calendar year.

Judges will consider caving-related publications produced during the calendar year, but it is within their discretion to also consider a work from the year before if, for example, publication was close to the year-end and it was not previously considered. The intent is to ensure that all worthy publications may be considered, despite any difficulties that may have delayed their production or distribution, despite any imprinted date.

5. Judges will take into account factors including content of the publication (for example, its importance to caving and the clarity of writing), as well as the physical aspects of production (including layout, presentation, printing and binding). In addition, availability and distribution of the publication will be taken into account, as will a more general assessment of 'improvement'.

Considering the availability and distribution of any publication is to allow judges to take into account short-run publications that might then be restricted for sales, a factor which could include club publications that are only disseminated to members and not made available to a wider readership by reason of sale or otherwise - why produce a fine publication but then not encourage a wider range of cavers to read it? The Tratman Award judges will take into account whether a publication may readily be obtained by readers and at their discretion may include such an assessment in their decision to shortlist a publication or grant it the award.

The additional consideration of 'improvement' is to look at long-established journals, for example, those which maintain a high standard and might be commended or win every year. Thus, improvement over past editions will be also taken into consideration, whatever the standard (low to high, or high to even higher).

6. The Tratman Co-ordinator, as an independent caver, will be elected by the BCRA committee for a period of three years but may be re-elected indefinitely; the co-ordinator is responsible for selecting the judges, which may or may not include the co-ordinator. The committee will not seek to influence the judges’ decision but its members, just as any other caver, are free to bring publications to the judges' attention and are not precluded from winning. The co-ordinator will inform the committee of the decision each year, in time to allow for preparation prior to the public announcement. The presentation will normally take place at the annual Hidden Earth caving conference, which is usually held at the end of September.

7. The winner will receive a trophy commemorating the award, which is funded by BCRA; this is retained by the recipient as a mark of the prestige so attained.


British Cave Research Association Hon. Sec.

Tratman Co-ordinator Chris Howes.