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Creswell Crags

Cave / Rock Shelter

<b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Blingo_von_TrumpenstImage © Me !!
Also known as:
  • Robin Hood Cave
  • Church Hole Cave
  • Pin Hole Cave

Nearest Town:Warsop (6km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   SK538743 / Sheet: 120
Latitude:53° 15' 45.54" N
Longitude:   1° 11' 36.05" W

Added by stubob

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The gateway to hell? Hundreds of anti-witch marks found in Midlands cave

Medieval vandalism?

If there is a gateway to hell, a portal from the underworld used by demons and witches to wreak their evil havoc on humanity, then it could be in a small east Midlands cave handy for both the M1 and A60... continues...
moss Posted by moss
15th February 2019ce

UK nominates 11 sites for Unesco world heritage status

Britain is nominating a judicious mixture of natural, built and industrial sites, including the slate industry of north Wales with its spectacular shale heaps still bearing witness to the days when Welsh slate roofed half the world, the Jodrell Bank observatory in Cheshire, Scotland's beautiful Flow Country, the endlessly repainted Forth railway br... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
22nd March 2011ce

New £4.5 million visitor centre opens at Creswell Crags

Published Date: 08 May 2009

By sjb

IT may have been around for millions of years, but Creswell Crags has often remained something of a mystery to generations of local people... continues...
moss Posted by moss
9th May 2009ce

More money for Creswell?

"Notts County Council has agreed in principle to increasing its funding for Creswell Crags Heritage Trust. The authority currently gives £38,000 to support one of Britain's most important archaeological and geological sites. Over the past six years a £6m programme has been undertaken to improve facilities... continues...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
29th January 2007ce
Edited 29th January 2007ce

Archaeologists dig up more ice age remains at Creswell Crags

In adjunct to Rhiannon's post below, some details of Dr Pettitt and his team's discoveries in the paleolithic strata of Creswell Crags, are availble from the 24hr museum here
Hob Posted by Hob
24th August 2006ce
Edited 24th August 2006ce

New excavations at Church Hole

Sheffield archaeologists are working with the British museum at Creswell Crags for the next two weeks, in the first major investigation at the site since the 1920s... continues...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th August 2006ce

Cave paintings reveal Ice Age artists

Britain's first cave art is more than 12,800 years old, scientific testing has shown. Engravings of a deer and other creatures at Creswell Crags, in Derbyshire, have proved to be genuine Ice Age creations, and not modern fakes, as some had feared... continues...
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
14th December 2005ce
Edited 14th December 2005ce

Cave Art Museum Gets Major Grant

A Derbyshire museum has been given £4.26m to expand its facilities.
The money will be spent on building a centre of excellence at Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge which contains the country's oldest cave art... continues...
stubob Posted by stubob
10th January 2005ce
Edited 11th January 2005ce

Sistine Chapel of the Ice Age

An English cave has been described as the "Sistine Chapel of the Ice Age" after the discovery of 80 engraved figures in its limestone ceiling.

The discovery at Creswell Crags was announced on Tuesday... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
14th July 2004ce
Edited 14th July 2004ce

Bas-relief sculpture overlooked

From the THES 9/7/04;
It's Brit Art, but not as we know it
Steve Farrar
Published: 09 July 2004

The cave engravings emerged first, then shadowy bas-reliefs. Steve Farrar reports
The finest collection of Ice Age bas-relief sculpture found on a cave ceiling is as elusive as it is beautiful... continues...
Posted by Martin
12th July 2004ce

Cave Paintings Were Part of a Continent-Wide Culture

The people who created the first surviving art in Britain were committed Europeans, belonging to a common culture spanning France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, according to the man who discovered the cave art in Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire (England)... continues...
Kozmik_Ken Posted by Kozmik_Ken
21st April 2004ce
Edited 21st April 2004ce

Cave art boosts World Heritage Site possibility


THE discovery of 12,000-year-old artwork on the walls of a North Derbyshire cave could spur on a bid for World Heritage Site status... continues...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th July 2003ce
Edited 28th July 2003ce

Museum planned for prehistoric cave art

The earliest-known example of prehistoric cave art in Britain could get a new £4.5m museum. A lottery bid is being prepared to allow the cave art to go on public view, although the exact details have yet to be worked out.

Read more at:
Jane Posted by Jane
28th July 2003ce

Museum hope for Creswell rock art

Chesterfield Today

Historians are planning a new £4... continues...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th July 2003ce

Archaeologists unearth Britain's first cave pictures

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday June 15, 2003
The Observer

Archaeologists have discovered 12,000-year-old engravings carved by ancient Britons in a cave in Creswell Crags, Derbyshire. The depiction of the animals - which include a pair of birds - is the first example of prehistoric cave art in Britain... continues...
stubob Posted by stubob
15th June 2003ce
Edited 16th June 2003ce

Images (click to view fullsize)

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Photographs:<b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Blingo_von_Trumpenst <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by baza <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by stubob <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by baza <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by baza <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by baza <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by stubob <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by stubob <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by baza <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Chris Collyer <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Chris Collyer <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Chris Collyer <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Chris Collyer <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by stubob Maps / Plans / Diagrams:<b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Rhiannon <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Rhiannon <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Rhiannon Artistic / Interpretive:<b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Chris Collyer <b>Creswell Crags</b>Posted by Chris Collyer


Add fieldnotes Add fieldnotes
Visited 1.5.14

This was the highlight of the week for me.
I was looking forward to visiting Creswell gorge and I wasn’t disappointed.

We parked in the car park and myself and Dafydd headed for the visitor’s centre. Karen stayed in the car with Sophie who was asleep.

A sign said that there had recently been a fire and some of the exhibits had been temporarily removed. Because of this the entry fee was reduced to a bargain £2 for me and £1 for Dafydd. This caused me some alarm but I needn’t had worried as the bone engravings of the horse and ‘Pin Hole Man’ were still on display.
My face lit up as I was actually able to see these famous engravings in real life!

After spending a fair bit of time looking around the other exhibits we headed out across the meadow towards the caves. The escorted tours only run on the weekend which was disappointing but we were still able to walk around the gorge. We stopped at each information board and looked through the metal bars into the caves. Some of the smaller caves were not barred and Dafydd had great fun ‘exploring’ these little recesses.

It was the only non-sunny day of the holiday. The weather being still but foggy. This only added to the atmosphere.

This is a great place to come and I would heartily recommend a visit if you are ever in the area. I certainly plan to come back one day (on a weekend) when I can have a tour of the caves and see the cave art for myself.
Posted by CARL
7th May 2014ce

Visited 6/4/08, and took the Rock Art Tour. This costs six pounds, which some might say was pretty dear for a couple of definite images and a couple of possibles.

Having said that, the moment when you 'see' the reindeer carving reveal itself from under the modern graffiti and natural markings as the guide outlines it with her laser pointer is pretty incredible.

Our guide was very good with the children in the group, some of whom were quite young. There are no restrictions on photographing the art, although you are advised not to use a flash, this is because you get better pictures without then with.

As others have said, the gorge seems to have been transplanted into a very bog-standard midlands landscape from elsewhere. According to our guide there are some other smaller ones nearby some of which also had rock shelters.

Completely non-MA, but a short walk to the E of the site along Robin Hoods Way takes you to the remains of subterranean structures built by the 'Mole' Duke of Portland in the C19th including a chapel and art gallery. Strange to have such an unconscious echo of the ancient past constructed in the industrial era....
Posted by Ubik
7th April 2008ce
Edited 7th April 2008ce

Two days have past and I am still in awe and wonderment at the sights I saw at the weekend. I took the opportunity to book up to see the cave art within Church Hole Cave - and what an opportunity it turned out to be! For over half an hour I stood on the temporary viewing platform which had been erected to coincide with the cave art conference which took place nearby. I had an image of an animal, drawn by a human in the Palaeolithic, within six inches of my nose! My head was within inches of other animals and images which have yet to be fully interpreted! I feel privileged; no - I AM privileged - to have been allowed in to Church Hole Cave and to be shown the first prehistoric cave art to have been re-discovered in Britain. baza Posted by baza
19th April 2004ce
Edited 24th April 2004ce

As Stubob says Creswell Crags is a little lost world, as you drive in from the west the cliff faces and the lake make a welcome change from the surrounding area which I found uniformly run-down and depressing (apologies to anybody who lives locally) While you're there you can take a tour of Robin Hood's Cave, you get to wear a hard hat with miners lamp and are shown a short way into the cave by a knowledgeable guide who gives a potted history of the site and passes round various bones and flints to illustrate different occupation periods - most of these flints are modern replicas though. It's not the most wildly exiting tour but our guide was enthusiastic and certainly knew her stuff, she was more than capable of answering any questions fired at her. The tour is £2.75 for adults and lasts around an hour and a quarter including walking time. Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
31st October 2003ce

Pleased to see that Stubob's put this site on the map. I've visited this place a couple of times but sadly have no photos to post here.

A strange place this - I recollect that the air was very still last time we visited, almost oppressive. Visually this is similar to a scaled down version of Cheddar Gorge but, thankfully without the tourist coaches parked at the bottom. The caves are largely fenced off from the public but a winding walk around the valley floor takes the visitor past each fancifully named cave.


Whilst you're in "the Dukeries" pop into the grounds of nearby Rufford Park for some food and a look at the gallery. I've posted up a review on the facilities section.
RedBrickDream Posted by RedBrickDream
9th January 2003ce
Edited 9th January 2003ce


Add folklore Add folklore
According to W B Dawkins' 1880 "Early Man in Britain" (an excerpt online at,
the 'Pin Hole Cave' is so called because people used to drop a pin in (for luck? for a wish? as an offering?) - part of the ritual being that they took away a pin left by another visitor previously.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th January 2006ce

A spooky modern story connected with the Crags, summarised from Liz Linahan's account in her 'More pit ghosts, padfeet and poltergeists' (1995):

One evening a couple were driving home past the crags, and stopped at some temporary traffic lights just near the visitors' centre. The woman glanced out of her window and caught sight of a pale blurred circular shape in the briars next to her, about 2ft from the ground. As she watched it started floating back and forth (though the briars were really dense) and she saw it begin to take on the features of 'an old hag' with dark eyes and a beaked nose, and then hollow cheeks and long hair. At first she thought it must be a prank - but then felt scared and became convinced it was 'something paranormal'. The face moved towards the car and the woman (not unreasonably) screamed, causing her husband to turn round - he said he saw the face briefly before stepping on the accelerator. The woman was so shaken when she got home that the doctor had to be called, and her husband and some police went back to the crags to investigate. They were bemused because entry inside the brambles was nigh on impossible, and one of the policemen ripped his coat trying to do so.

Also that night, around dawn, a lorry driver was driving along the same stretch of road when he had to brake hard and swerve to avoid a 'dark mysterious figure' crossing the road from the visitors' centre side, where it disappeared into the bushes. Shaken, he described it as 'floating' and 'seemingly headless'. He described it as female although there were no particular features that made it so.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th January 2006ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
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

This horse's head is carved on a bison rib and was the first Creswellian art found in the gorge.
A recent study and reinterpretation of the piece suggests the carved vertical strokes to be corral fencing.
The open ended gorge is thought to have been used as a large natural trap, fences being erected across its span to trap the animals.
stubob Posted by stubob
1st September 2004ce

There seems to have been 3 main occupation periods at the site which was used as a summer camp by groups following herds of reindeer, bison, mammoth and horses. The first group were Neanderthals from 50000 years ago onwards, then the first modern humans were here around 30000 years ago. The last group left their Creswell Points and bone carvings as well as the recently discovered wall engravings about 11-13000 years ago. Sporadic evidence of use of the caves continues through the prehistoric period. A great deal of information has been lost however as the Victorians actually used explosives to excavate some of the caves On the plus side, when plans were being made to lay a railway through the gorge the land owner thwarted them by damming the stream and creating the modern lake - nice one! Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
31st October 2003ce

The larger caves are located on the North side (the South side is in Nottinghamshire).
Mother Grundys Parlour where flints and split bones have been found.
The Pin Hole which had a bone with a carved human figure and
Robin Hood's Cave which also contained engraved bones.
stubob Posted by stubob
9th January 2003ce

Creswell Crags has around 24 caves and shelters in the steep sided limestone crags. They can only be viewed through the iron gates in the mouth of the cave. Finds suggest the caves were in use periodically from 43,000BC through to medieval times.

It is like a little lost world down by the lake/stream that runs through the crags....only spoilt by the sewage farm between the crags and the visitors centre.....


I visited here again in March and was surprised to see the sewage farm had gone! Re-placed by a picnic looking area. It certainly makes a difference not having to walk past the sewage beds to the crags.....alot kinder on the nose too.
stubob Posted by stubob
9th January 2003ce
Edited 12th March 2003ce


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Tate Online

Samuel Hieronymous Grimm's painting, 1785, of the gorge before the dam.
stubob Posted by stubob
7th January 2006ce

British Museum - Compass

An engraving of a man on a woolly rhinoceros bone found in Pin Hole Cave - thought to be from the upper Palaeolithic, 12,000 years ago. Though whether it's truly from this cave or not is another matter (see misc posts).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd January 2006ce
Edited 17th December 2009ce

Archaeoptics>>3D Laser Scanning at Creswell Crags

"The presentation discusses, firstly, theory and suitability of the use of 3D scanners to record rock art, secondly, some results of Archaeoptics' use of this technology in recording rock art at Creswell Crags."

(1.5mb pdf file).
stubob Posted by stubob
13th December 2005ce

Bradshaw Foundation: New Discoveries of Cave Art in Church Hole, Creswell Crags.

Good article from the International Newsletter on Rock Art
No. 40 2004 by the Bradshaw Foundation. Some good photos and sketches of the engravings in the Church Hole Cave.
stubob Posted by stubob
13th December 2005ce
Edited 13th December 2005ce

British Archaeology

Paul Bahn's article on the long awaited discovery of Ice Age art in Britain.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th December 2004ce

Antiquity Project Gallery

New Discoveries of Cave Art in Church Hole (Creswell Crags, England)

An updated report on the Church Hole Cave's engravings.
stubob Posted by stubob
26th August 2004ce
Edited 6th March 2006ce


Home of the Ice Age hunter.
stubob Posted by stubob
9th January 2003ce
Edited 1st April 2004ce