Creswell Crags

From Academic Kids

Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border, in the Midlands of England. The cliffs of the ravine contain several caves that were occupied during the last ice age, between around 43,000 and 10,000 years ago.

The caves contain occupation layers with evidence of flint tools from the Mousterian, proto-Solutrean, Creswellian and Maglemosian cultures. They were seasonally occupied by nomadic groups of people during the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods. Evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age. Roman and post-medieval activity has also been found there. The main phases of stone age occupation were at around 43,000 BC then in a period between 30,000 and 28,000 BC and then again around 10,000 BC.

A bone engraved with a horse's head and other worked bone items along with the remains of a wide variety of prehistoric animals have been found in excavations from 1875 to the present day. The site is open to the public and there is a visitor's centre.

In 2003, engravings were found on the walls and roofs of some of the caves - the only known examples of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain. Their subject matter is representations of animals including bison and several different bird species. The engravers seem to have made use of the naturally uneven cave surface in their carvings and it is likely that they relied on the early morning sunlight entering the caves to illuminate the art.

The most occupied caves were:

  • Mother Grundy's Parlour, which has produced numerous flint tools and split bones and was occupied until the Mesolithic;
  • Robin Hood's Cave, from which was recovered the horse head-engraved bone and also evidence that its occupants were hunting and trapping woolly rhinoceroses and arctic hares;
  • The Pin Hole, a prehistoric hyena den and also occupied by Neandertals. Finds include a bone engraved with a human figure and an ivory pin with etched lines;
  • Church Hole, which has more that 80 engravings on its walls and was occupied intermittently until Roman times.

It was featured on the 2005 TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the Midlands.

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