Trent & Peak Archaeology / The University of Nottingham
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Nottingham’s Sandstone Caves The English city of Nottingham has a unique architectural heritage - beneath the city there are nearly 500 man-made caves cut into the natural sandstone. Some date back to the medieval period and possibly even earlier. These caves “constitute a feature of the City that is unique in the national context” (Nottingham Local Plan, 2005: 79). They have been used for a vast array of purposes, including dungeons, beer cellars, cess-pits, tanneries, malt-kilns, houses, wine cellars, tunnels, summer-houses, air-raid shelters, sand mines, follies, dovecotes and even a bowling alley. Some of these caves are currently utilised for commercial purposes and visitor attractions, including the City of Caves attraction in the Broadmarsh Centre, Mortimer’s Hole beneath the Castle, the cave- restaurant at the Hand & Heart public house and the cellar-caves at the Trip to Jerusalem pub. Some are occasionally publicly accessible by means of organised tours, including the Bridlesmith Gate cave system and those beneath the Salutation public house. Most, however, including important and interesting systems such as Lenton Hermitage, Thomas Herbert’s caves and the Peel Street caves, are not publicly accessible and are poorly known. The experience of visiting these domestic caves is far removed from the clean regularity of modern urban living and offers a tangible link to medieval Nottingham. This is particularly significant in a city with such a strong past personality but so few medieval structures still standing above ground. The caves thus represent a unique and important part of Nottingham’s built environment and a vastly under-exploited tourism and heritage resource.
About Nottingham’s Caves