Cresswell Crags by Leslie Cram


Standing buildings

The geology of the site can be dealt with here. The standing rock faces have within them caves which served as homes for people dating back to some 50,000 years ago. The rock is Magnesian limestone and occurs in a band which runs through the northwest of Nottinghamshire and stretches from Derbyshire in the southwest into Yorkshire in the northeast. In the Ice ages before  the last ice age, glaciers covered the Creswell Crags area (For an illustration of Creswell Crags in the ice age click on The caves in the sides of the rock faces were made, not by man as in the sandstone caves of the city of Nottingham, but by water seeping and running into the limestone. The water dissolved the limestone and found its way into porous areas and cracks. Where it ran into the open again by the valley floor it made caves. The action of freezing and thawing on the rock of the cave mouths served to enlarge the caves more.

For the English nature website of  “the southern  magnesian limestone natural area” click on

In the last few hundred years a track alongside  the stream running down the valley was altered to a motor road. The road is an obstruction to the enjoyment and development of the site as a whole and there are plans to reroute it. The natural stream was dammed to make the lake that can be seen today. At the east end of the valley there was a sewage works. This was removed in the late 1990s.

Ruins & earthworks

There is as wealth of archaeological evidence from the cave floors and walls which is dealt with under artefactual remains.

Archaeological remains

Earth from the Church Hole excavations, 1878. Reproduced by courtesy of [DCBM200616]

Earth from the Church Hole excavations, 1878. Reproduced by courtesy of [DCBM200616]

Evidence of human occupation in the past has been found in the earth of the floors of most of the caves. It is considered in the section on artefactual evidence. The caves has been extensively excavated since the late 1800s and the earth removed during these excavations is to be seen spilling out from the front of the caves. The photograph on the right, taken by J W Jackson, shows earth from Church Hole under excavations in 1878.