Creswell Crags is one of Britain's most important archaeological sites, as important as Stonehenge or Hadrian's Wall. The caves tell the fascinating story of life during the last Ice Age when the Crags were amongst the most northerly places on earth to have been inhabited by our ancient ancestors. The recent cave art discoveries underline the international significance of the site.

The Crags have suffered from the late nineteenth century when the Creswell Caves became known to scientists. Early excavators used dynamite to blast their way into the caves, and a road and a sewage works have been built in the gorge. Tens of thousands of archaeological finds from the site are now dispersed amongst 30 different museums around the UK.

The Creswell Initiative is the title of a major project which proposes to carry out the works necessary to look after, protect and tell people about the story of life at Creswell Crags. The total cost is estimated at £14 million. The project will give a major boost to the local economy, creating a new vision for the future of this ex-coalfield area.

Key Projects

Key projects include relocation of the sewage works and road, development of a new museum and interpretation centre, and creation of an Ice Age studies centre. Over £8 million has been raised so far. The Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage funded the preparation of a Conservation Plan for Creswell Crags which provides a blueprint for managing and enhancing the site and the surrounding Heritage Area.

Severn Trent Water relocated the sewage works during 2000 at a cost of £4.5 million - the largest Private Sector contribution ever made in this country towards the conservation of a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The European Regional Development Fund financed a programme of conservation and access improvements including the creation of Crags Meadow amenity and education area on the site of the former sewage works, dredging and restoration of Crags pond, and improvements to cave conservation and access.

A Planning Application was also submitted to relocate the B6042 road. This £1.2 million project was started in December 2003.

Related projects

Related projects include the HLF funded Creswell Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme (curretnly valued at over £6 million) to restore the Model Mining Village at Creswell, and the Creswell Heritage Area Management Action Plan funded through the Aggregates Levy scheme.

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