Explore the last warm/cold cycle

Click on the pictures to see what life was like during these times. The pictures are not imaginary but based on archaeological evidence of the sites of this period.

120,000 years ago

Creswell Crags as it might have been 120,000 years ago. The warm summer sun shines down on a group of hippopotami wallowing in the muddy stream. Trampled trees and shrubs litter the valley as a small herd of straight tusked elephants pass through the gorge. A bear takes shade beneath a tree away from the cliff edge and a fox hunts for small mammals to eat.

 Hyaenas watch from from their den in the cave while hippopotami wallow in the muddy pool. Two of the hippopotami are displaying. A thirsty narrow-nosed rhinoceros has attracted the attention of the spotted hyaenas.


50,000 years ago

Creswell Crags as it might have been 50,000 years ago. Away from the water hole a large herd of bison graze the coarse dry steppe grassland while a group of male bison fend off a pack of hyaenas. In the gorge a family of young hyaena play in the mouth of a cave. At another cave a group of Neanderthals have camped and the smell of a fresh reindeer kill has attracted two of the spotted hyaenas. A small herd of reindeer and a woolly rhinoceros drink from the stream but keep alert with hyaenas close by.

At the camp a group of Neanderthals sit around the fire. The man gestures to the woman and two children as he tells them a story. The children watch and learn from the woman as she makes flint tools. At the entrance to the cave, the smell of freshly killed reindeer being butchered has attracted a pack of spotted hyaenas who are being warned off with a firebrand.


28,000 years ago

Creswell Crags as it might have been 28,000 years ago. As the early evening sun casts long shadows a pack of spotted hyaenas surround a woolly rhinoceros, a kill which will keep the pack going for a few days. A lion prowls on the opposite cliff, watching two people on a fishing trip prepare to camp at a cave. A herd of reindeer in the gorge drink by the stream while in the distance mammoth are slowly making their way to the water hole. Midges are attracted to the animals and people in the gorge.

Two people on a fishing trip prepare to camp at a cave. Both are decorated with shells and wear well made stitched leather clothes, the further hunter has braided hair. They will only be camping here while there are animals to hunt. By the winter they will have moved to other camps possibly to the south.


18,000 years ago

Creswell Crags as it might have been 18,000 years ago. A crack rings out as a small block of limestone shatters from the cliff face, prized away by frozen water deep in the rock crevices. Clumps of grass and moss survive on the thin pockets of soil buried deep within the cracks and fissures. Arctic hare search for edible plants to eat on the plateau. This is a dry and bitterly cold environment. There are no people this far north, they are probably living as far south as Southwest France where food resources are more abundant.


12,000 years ago

Creswell Crags as it might have been 12,000 years ago. It is late winter and the snow is melting. A cold wind whistles over the landscape drifting snow against the limestone cliffs. Trappers on the plateau set a snare. This will be their final winter visit. They return again in the summer to hunt horse. One of the group has lit a fire at the cave. In the distance a herd of mammoth brush snow off the grass to graze. Small stands of birch and willow cling to the thin soil. Snow melt swells the fast flowing stream, the rush of the stream echoing off the cliff sides.

Well wrapped up against the cold, trappers set a snare across an arctic hare run. Their pack dog waits patiently as a dead hare is released and the snare is reset.



8,500 years ago

Creswell Crags as it might have been 8,500 years ago. As the late summer sun sets a herd of wild cattle graze the grass in the bottom of the gorge and drink from the meandering stream. A thin plume of smoke rises from a distant cave now that some hunters have returned to spend the winter in the area around Creswell. Their canoe is moored by the beaver lake at the far end of the gorge.


An inquisitive lynx looks on while hunters make preparations for the following day. New flint and chert tools are made and bows are restrung. Down by the beaver dam people relax and swim in the lake.