The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Creswell Crags

Cave / Rock Shelter


Excavations at Mother Grundy's Parlour, Creswell Crags, Derbyshire, 1924.
A. Leslie Armstrong
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 55. (Jan. - Jun., 1925), pp. 146-175.

This article suggests the carvings show a bison, a reindeer and a rhinoceros. The rhinoceros seems the least convincing interpretation, especially when the other animals are carefully observed. To me it looks more like baza's photo of the bird carving in Church Hole, perhaps; it has got a line down the middle of the 'beak'.

I see no mention of these carvings on the Creswell Crags website?

I have added tracings of Armstrong's drawings to the 'diagrams' section above. The carvings are an inch or two across. The photos in the article aren't very enlightening for extra detail because the outlines of the animals have been highlighted in some way.


Today (21/3/09) I have been reading an article by Paul G Bahn - one of the discoverers of the Palaeolithic art at Cresswell. He says (rather as I had thought) that the three finds I've traced are Rather Dubious. Armstrong was very apt at finding art in all sorts of places, including Grimes Graves - at one point he believed it was a palaeolithic site. The thing is, he might not have been cheating, he may just have been the victim of wishful thinking. It's easy to see all sorts of things in a mish mash of lines if you want to. He was there when the famous 'chalk goddess' was found at GG - Bahn says "it's by no means clear whether Armstrong made the piece himself [...] or was the victim of a hoax." The famous 'Pin Hole Cave man' mentioned by stubob below is also one of Armstrong's 'discoveries'.

All very interesting anyway. The Bahn's article is 'The Historical Background to the Discovery of Cave Art at Cresswell Crags', which is in the book 'Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context' (Pettitt, Bahn and Ripoll) 2007.

Bahn also discusses the engraved horse that was found in the Robin Hood cave - there was controversy about it over many years. Consensus seems to be that it is genuinely palaeolithic - but just that it might not really have originated in the cave. It might have travelled very recently from France and been Planted. It was found by the Revd J. M. Mello.

Well. As Bahn says, "it is supremely ironic that the very objects which drew us to search Creswell Crags for cave art and to discover it there [...] may perhaps be a planted intrusion in one case, and illusory and non-existent in the others."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th January 2007ce
Edited 21st March 2009ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment