Creswell Crags - History and Facts | History Hit

Creswell Crags

Worksop, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

28 Jan 2021
Image Credit: credit

About Creswell Crags

Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge on the border between Nottingham and Derbyshire, and is home to a number of fascinating cave dwellings. Once occupied by nomadic peoples during the Ice Age, the caves are now home to the northernmost collection of cave art in Europe and provide an intriguing glimpse into Britain’s ancient history.

Creswell Crags history 

Creswell Crags has been the site of human activity for tens of thousands of years, with its caves becoming a refuge for the hunter-gatherer peoples of the past. 

Neanderthals were the first to occupy the caves up until 40,000 BC, crafting hand axes and scrapers from flit, quartzite and clay-ironstone. Homo sapiens later arrived, using the caves from around 22,000 BC, through the end of the Ice Age and beyond. 

Artefacts uncovered from the caves have provided a wealth of information about those who occupied them. For example, we now know that they hunted wooly rhinoceros and arctic hare, while hyena, lion and reindeer bones have also been found in excavations! 

The caves’ wall art has been its most intriguing feature to date however, with etchings of stags, bison and various birds found on the walls and ceiling. 

‘Art Mobilier’, or portable art, was interestingly also discovered at the site, usually etched into animal or human rib bones. The most famous of these is the ‘Robin Hood Cave Horse’ that features an etching of a horse’s head, and the Pin Hole man depicting a male thought to be in ceremonial dress.

Creswell Crags today

Today the historic site is open to the public alongside a museum and visitor centre. The museum hosts a number of artefacts found during excavation of the site over many years, and tells the story of those who occupied it.

Guests can explore the various caves, including Robin Hood Cave, Pin Hole, Mother Grundy’s Parlour, and Church Hole, the latter of which hosts the large collection of wall art. 

Once the homes of our early ancestors, these atmospheric caves provide one of the most personal experiences possible to the people of the Stone Age, while also allowing visitors a breath of fresh air through the various surrounding nature trails. 

Getting to Creswell Crags

Creswell Crags is located 5 miles off the M1 motorway, taking exit 30. Brown tourist signs will lead you from the A616 Sheffield-Newark road, or the A60 Mansfield-Worksop road, and pay-and-display parking is available at the visitor centre. 

Creswell railway station is approximately 1 mile from Creswell Crags, and a walk through the gorge is available avoiding the main road.

Stagecoach buses 77 and 209 drop off in the nearby area, with walks under 1 mile to the caves.