A limestone valley filled with cliffs and riddled with caves may be found in Northern England, wedged between the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The caves, located just outside the community of Creswell, include prehistoric beast fossils, early human implements, and the northernmost ice period cave art in Europe.
Creswell Crags is the name of the site, and it provides a unique look into cave use over the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Roman eras. There are four main caverns to explore (one of which is dubbed Robin Hood’s Cave since it is so near to Nottingham), as well as other small fissures and jagged bluffs.
While available to the public, the entire gorge is protected as a “Site of Special Scientific Interest” (it’s also on the short list for candidature as a World Heritage Site), with a Visitors Centre and small museum of fossils, bones, and artefacts depicting the many centuries of use. There is evidence of ice age carvings inside the caverns, which were previously unknown to have been carved so far north. Church Hole Cave alone includes about 80 samples dating from 13,000-15,000 years old.
The Creswell caverns were used as a summer refuge for nomadic ice age people, although there is evidence of earlier and much later use. The evidence of a large sweep of people has been collected here, from 60,000 year old Neanderthals to late-medieval Britons, with more assumed to be buried behind layers upon layers of flowstone (sheets of dissolved minerals that form into a hardened wall coating).
In addition to the prehistoric connotations, there is evidence of more modern use, such as lead mining and a pool filled with hundreds of metal pins said to be Victorian and left behind as good luck charms.
Before You Go
Creswell Crags is located about 20 miles southeast of Sheffield, just east of the village of Creswell. The Creswell Crags site, the gorge, and the souvenir and coffee shops are all free to visit. Parking and displays are both free of charge.
The Ice Age Tour in Robin Hood’s Cave and the Rock Art Tour (March to September only) allow you to see Britain’s only known ice age rock art. Click here to view a History of Derby.
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