Creswell Crags - one of Britain's most important archeological sites
The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are numerous interesting towns such as Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Matlock and Wirksworth, plus many enchanting villages
|Creswell Crags are located on the eastern edge of Derbyshire, East of Chesterfield and some way from the Peak District, but easily reachable on a day trip. They are a set of Magnesian Limestone crags, set in a small gorge and containing numerous small caves, which have been inhabited, on and off, for approximately 50,000 years. This is one of the most important archeological sites in the country and the location of Britain's only cave art found so far.|
A workman here picked up a fossilised mammoth tooth in 1870, and this alerted the attention of archeologists, who came to the caves and excavated them. The archeologists included Boyd Dawkins and they discovered that the floors of the caves had a layer of flowstone several centimetres thick which had preserved all manner of material, most of which is now in museums around the country - notably Sheffield Museum.
This material included a bone with a carving of a dancing man (found in Pin Hole Cave) and in 2003 the search climaxed with the discovery of a number of carvings on the walls of the caves - a find unique in Britain.
The caves were initially inhabited 50,000 to 30,000 years ago by Neandertals who hunted horse, bison, woolly mammoth and rhinoceros. Occupation of the caves fluctuated with periods of glaciation and Homo Sapiens of the Upper Paleolithic period, whose culture is now called 'Creswellian', arrived around 15,000 years ago.
They were replaced by a Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) culture around 8,000-10,000 years ago, and among a wealth of Mesolithic material found was a female Mesolithic skull - a unique find in Britain.
The excavations in the caves still continue, revealing new information about the lives of the peoples who occupied the caves over the millenia. Many animal bones have been unearthed, including sabre-toothed tiger, woolly mammoth, rhinoceros, hyena, and many more.
The site is owned and run by Creswell Heritage Trust, and a sparkling new visitor centre opened in 2009. This has a small museum and cafe. Tours of the caves are offered, as are educational visits. The caves themselves have iron grilles across the entrances to preserve them from damage, but the area around is open access and a very pleasant place for a short walk.
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How to get there
From the M1 - Creswell Crags are four miles east of Junction 30. Take the road to Clowne, then follow Creswell Road to Creswell village, then the road to Newark.
Postcode - S80 3LH
By Bus: The 77 service between Worksop and Chesterfield and the 33 Worksop - Mansfield service stop in Creswell village.
By Train: The site is 15 minutes walk from Creswell station, which is on the Robin Hood line
When is it open?
November, December, January: Weekends and Bank Holidays 10.00am - 4.30pm. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
February: Every day 10.00am - 4.30pm
March - September: Every day 10.00am - 5.30pm
October: Every day 10.00am - 4.30pm
What does it cost?
Exhibition Entry - £3 adults, £2 concessions, £1.50 children
Ice Age Cave Tour (including Exhibition Entry) - £7.50 adults, £6.50 concessions, £5.50 children
Rock Art Cave Tour (including Exhibition Entry) - £8.50 adults, £7.50 concessions, £7 children
Both Cave Tours (including Exhibition Entry) - £13 adults, £11 concessions, £8 children
Prices and opening times are shown as a guideline only and may vary. See this link for more information on prices and opening
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