Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge near the former mining village of Creswell and stands as a unique portal into the last ice age – which was roughly 50, 000 years ago! Many of the caves found throughout Cresswell Crags were once occupied by Neanderthals, who left behind fascinating cave paintings that can be viewed today as part of the guided tour.
The cave art that decorates the interior of Cresswell Crags is not only the most northern example of prehistoric etchings in the entire world, but also is the only example of which has been found in Britain.
Creswell Crags also has a museum and exhibition area, which showcases tools and ancient artefacts, and is a truly immersive way of learning how Neanderthals and early humans lived, survived, and hunted.
Creswell Crags also has a small café area and is a popular destination amongst hikers for its surrounding walking trails.
History of Creswell Crags
Creswell Crags has been a prolific source of prehistoric remains and artefacts since it was first excavated in 1875. Its findings have been so plentiful, in fact, that archaeologist, Dorothy Garrod, labelled the specific period style of artefacts found at the gorge, and other sites like it, as ‘Creswellian’.
During initial excavations in the late 19th century, mostly rare animal remains were uncovered, which included hyenas, hippopotami, arctic hares, and woolly rhinoceros. In 1876, the Ochre Horse was uncovered in the Robin Hood cave of the gorge, which is a rib fragment with an engraving of a horse’s head; the relic is one of the most important prehistoric finds in Britain and is estimated to be up to 13,000 years old.
The biggest finds were made in 2003 when cave art was discovered – the first, and only time such a discovery has been made in Britain – which is thought to be roughly 12,000 years old. The art is mostly of animals, the most famous of which depicts a stag.
Things to do at Creswell Crags
The Creswell Crags Tour – The tour offers visitors the chance to explore the 1,500 feet-depths of Creswell Crags, and enter its numerous caves that are teeming with 13,000 years-worth of history. There are three different tour packages to choose from: the Life in the Ice Age tour takes place in the biggest cave in the gorge, the Robin Hood Cave, and explores what life would have been like in the cave for early humans; the Witch Marks Tour, which focuses on the 17th century witch marks found in the Robin Hood Cave; and the Rock Art Tour, which provides an in depth look at the Ice Age cave paintings that decorate Creswell’s caves.
The Creswell Museum – On display at the Creswell Crags museum visitors will find many of the ancient artefacts and relics uncovered throughout Creswell and its caves. This includes animal bones of a range of different animals – some of which are now extinct – and a plethora of prehistoric tools. There is also a rotational special exhibition – check their website to find out what the theme is at your time of visit!
Crags Edge Café – The café at Creswell Crags offers a delightful range of teas and coffees and serves a selection of sandwiches made with locally sourced ingredients.
How to get there
By Car – Starting from either Nottingham, Sheffield, or Doncaster, head to the M1 and take Exit 30. From there, there is brown tourist signs pointing you in the direction of Creswell Crags.
Postcode for Satnav – S80 3LH
Carpark – There is a carpark nearby the visitor centre which charges £4 for 3 hours or £6 for the day.
Public Transport – The nearest railway station at Creswell is only a mile away from the site of the Crags. Alternatively, Stagecoach 77, which runs between Worksop and Chesterfield, passes through Creswell.
Good to Know
– The Rock Art tour is closed during the winter months due to roosting bats.
– The café, shop, and gorge footpath can all be accessed for free.
– The guided tours are currently only operating for group bookings.
January, November, and December
Weekends only, 10.00am – 4.30pm
February – October
Every Day, 10.00am – 4.30pm
Adult – £3
Concession – £2