Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

  • Humans in Ancient Britain

    14th March - 7th June 2015

    Creswell Crags showcased some of the ancient treasures of the Natural History Museum in a free, temporary exhibition “Humans in Ancient Britain” which told the fascinating story of Neanderthals and modern humans in the UK.   

    Following the success of the recent blockbuster exhibition, “One Million Years of the Human Story in Britain,” the Natural History Museum put together some of the most fascinating objects in a new, travelling exhibition.   The exhibition featured some of the oldest human remains ever found in Britain – the Swanscombe skull, found in Kent is thought to be 400,000 years old. Alongside this, objects illustrating the story of modern humans in Britain including an intricately carved 14,000-year-old harpoon point. 

    The Natural History Museum’s Prof Chris Stringer said: “There’s great symbolism in the regional tour starting at Creswell Crags, where archaeological digs show that it’s an area steeped in ancient human activity. Touring these objects will help academics and visitors consider how these communities once lived.”  

  • Mining Memories

    8th November 2014 - 1st March 2015  


    Mining Memories brought to life oral history recordings documenting the local mining industry which were recorded as part of a Limestone Journeys project. 

  • Man or Superman: Pin Hole Man

    March - October 2014

    After travelling around the world and featuring in exhibitions in China and Spain, one of Creswell Crags’ most significant archaeological treasures returned home to Creswell Crags. Pin Hole Man was the focus of ‘Man or Superman: Pin Hole Man’ at the visitor centre until October 2014. The intriguing 13,500 year old engraving is the only Ice Age depiction of a man from Britain. However, the bone onto which it has been carved is much older, it is from a woolly rhinoceros, an animal extinct in Britain 22,000 years ago.    

    Despite being one of the most significant archaeological finds from the site, this small engraving of a man, known as Pin Hole Man, is a mystery. This exhibition explores three main ways in which the engraving has been interpreted: as a man, as a cartoon, and as a creature.    The exhibition also explores the engraving in a modern context against artworks by artist Ghislaine Howard and children’s illustrator Megan Rose Wall.       

     ‘This amazing animal bone is one of Creswell’s main claims to fame,’ explains Roger Shelley, Director of Creswell Crags.‘It’s been the subject of controversy and enigma ever since it was discovered in the 1920s.  We’re inviting people to come along and tell us what they think it represents in this special exhibition, remembering all the time that our judgement is being made through the prism of 13,500 years.’

  • A Baltic Gem

    A Baltic Gem explores one of the more mysterious items in our collection in more detail: a small amber pebble. Why is it here? Who brought it here? What was so special about it? 

    The new, temporary exhibition has opened its doors and will be on show until March 2014. Admission is free.

    The small, amber pebble is a unique find to the Crags and is thought to have been brought to this location during the Ice Age. The 'gem' was found by Victorian archaeologist in the largest cave at Creswell Crags, Robin Hood Cave. The exhibition explores possible uses of the amber including medicinal and decorative purposes and was funded by a grant from Museum Development East Midlands.

  • The Swimming Reindeer: Ice Age Art and Storytelling


    Swimming Reindeer exhibition at Creswell Crags Museum


    Creswell Crags is delighted to have the Swimming Reindeer, one of the most important pieces of Ice Age sculpture, on loan from the British Museum as part of their Spotlight Tours. It is one of the greatest treasures of the British Museum’s collection and was included in the British Museum/ BBC Radio 4 partnership programme, A History of the World in 100 Objects. 

    The 13,000 year old object will be the focus of a new, temporary exhibition held at Creswell Crags Visitor Centre entitled The Swimming Reindeer: Ice Age Art and Storytelling, which explores the relationship between art and the practice of telling stories in everyday life. Links are drawn with Creswell’s own rich Ice Age art. The intricately carved sculpture was fashioned from the tip of a mammoth’s tusk at around the same time that Ice Age man was creating the beautiful engravings on the wall of Church Hole and pieces of portable art which were found in the caves at Creswell Crags. 

    “We value the opportunity to work collaboratively with the British Museum once again, to create and exciting display to attract new audiences” explains Ian Wall, Director of Creswell Heritage Trust. 

    The exhibition will run from 20th October through to the 16th December and admission is free. 

  • Community Art Exhibition 2013
    12 January - 15 March 2013

    See the Crags through different eyes... 

    Visitors were invited to submit their own original creations inspired by the Crags under the theme of ‘My Creswell Crags’ into our Community Art Exhibition. Visitors chose a wide range of media and content to explore what the Crags means to them personally.  

  • Precious by Justine Nettleton

    A colourful exhibition inspired by the archaeology of Creswell Crags by regional artist, Justine Nettleton. Inspired by a small amber pebble found at the Crags, “Precious” is a stunning collection of 19 pastel drawings of crystals and precious stones. Amber is not indigenous to Creswell Crags, and the pebble is thought to have been carried to the area by Ice Age people who regarded it as precious.The pebble is on display in the permanent exhibition in Creswell Crags museum.Justine admits that she is fascinated by, and seeks inspiration from, the lives of our ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. She is intrigued by their way of life, seeing a number of connections with our own as modern humans.She explains, “Appreciating beauty and seeing some objects as precious and magical is something we do today. I like this link we have with ancient people and see it as a fundamental human trait. Crystals, precious and semi-precious stones captivate us. They have beauty and some people believe they have magical properties. I was captivated by their beauty and wanted to portray that in each drawing.”Justine is a Fine Artist based in her studio at Harrington Mills in Long Eaton, Nottingham. She studied Fine Art at Newcastle in the late 1980s and has been producing her paintings and drawings for exhibitions since then. She has exhibited locally, national and internationally.

    Special Exhibitions
    Special ExhibitionsBolsover and the Beast  In 1978 miners working at Bolsover colliery discovered one of the most exciting finds of the decade: a giant dragonfly with a wingspan of nearly half a metre. Nearly 30 years on and Creswell Crags are honoured to have agreed the loan of  the specimens from the Natural History Museum for a special exhibition dedicated to the Bolsover Dragonflies.

    Image copyright Natural History Museum

    Erasipteron bolsoveri; The Gracefully Winged of Bolsover

    Bolsover and the Beast

    In 1978 miners working at Bolsover colliery discovered one of the most exciting finds of the decade: a giant dragonfly with a wingspan of nearly half a metre. Nearly 30 years on and Creswell Crags are honoured to have agreed the loan of  the specimens from the Natural History Museum for a special exhibition dedicated to the Bolsover Dragonflies.

    Few people know how lucky we are that the fossils saw the light of day. The district deputy Terry Judge inspired his colleagues with his passion for fossil hunting so it was no surprise that Malc Spencer was able to recognise the dragonfly as something special straight away. Working in the deep hard seam at a depth of 586 metres Malc was able to extract the fossilised wing of the creature and bring it up to the surface.

     The dragonfly then sat dormant in his pit locker until Terry was able to have a look at the specimen. Following inspection it was sent to the Regional Mine Geologist and then onto the Institute of Geological Sciences before landing on the desk of Dr Paul Whalley at the British Museum. Two years later the astounding news reached Boslover that the type of dragonfly found was the first of its kind; a new species. Malc now was tasked with naming the species. Malc’s humility about the discovery is evident as he insisted the species was given the name of the Colliery and soErasipteron Bolsoveri Latin for the ‘Gracefully Winged of Bolsover’ could have become the ‘Gracefully Winged Spencer’.

    On the 10th August 1978 history repeated itself. This time a colleague of Malc’s who was now acting as deputy at the colliery, Grahame Ball a fitter for the colliery, was working a night shift in the pits deep hard seam at a depth of 600 metres when he discovered the second fossilised dragonfly. This second discovery never received the notoriety of the first specimen consequently not many people know that there are two Bolsover Dragonflies. This specimen had parallels with others found and was namedTupus diluculum meaning the ‘Dragonfly of the Dawn’.

    Since then the specimens have been re-named as research on them developed.Erasipteron bolsoveri became Whalleyala bolsoveri named after a genus Paul Whalley discovered. Tupus diluculum became Arctotypus diluculum as the specimen was incomplete. 

    This discovery put the small mining town of Bolsover into the spotlight. Dragonfly fever hit the national press and the first fossil specimen even appeared on Blue Peter earning Malc Spencer a Blue Peter Badge!  This started a trend in the mining town for locals wearing photocopied paper Blue Peter Badges wherever they went! Even the British Museum was described by Paul Whalley two years after the first discovery described as still suffering from ‘Dragonfly Mania’.

    The Bolsover dragonflies are not actually true dragonflies they belong to an extinct group of giant predatory flying insects called Protodonata also known as “griffenflies”. Physically the Protodonata had long narrow bodies, large eyes, strong jaws and long thin legs for grasping prey.  Only four specimens of fossilised dragonfly have ever been found in the U.K two from Bolsover, one from Birmingham and a third from Radstock in Somerset. The Bolsover Dragonflies although giant compared to today’s dragonflies they were relatively small by carboniferous standards.  Meganeura Monyi, which had a wing-span of up to 75 cm and a diameter across the chest (thorax) of nearly 3 cm. This prototype dragonfly differed mostly from its living relatives in the structure of its wings, which were primitive in the number and pattern of veins.

    The exhibition on the Boslover Dragonlfies is running from the 30th and March until 10th September and is free to enter.

  • Tim Harrisson Marks in the Landscape
    9 April - 30 October 2011
    This exhibition explores artist Tim Harrisson's relationship with archaeological landscapes, in particular those of Cranborne Chase, Wiltshire, which were excavated by General Pitt Rivers in the 1890's. It also displays four new works, which have been inspired by marks in our very own landscape, Creswell Crags.
    Special Exhibitions Gallery and The Bridge. 
  • Nine Men's Morris: A Creswell Crags Medieval Mystery
    11 December 2010 - 27 March 2011
    Displaying one of Creswell Crags most puzzling finds, a medieval board game called Nine Men’s Morris, this winter’s special exhibition is quite literally a Medieval Mystery!
    Come and see one of the most recent finds from Creswell Crags and have a go at playing this medieval game on our giant interactive board.
    Special Exhibitions Gallery. Admission Free.
  • My Take
    22 January - 18 February 2011
    In September 2009 a group of young people from Groundwork Creswell arrived with one goal - to produce a film and exhibition celebrating their own interpretation of Creswell Crags. For four months they worked with professional filmmakers, flintknappers and other specialists to produce this eagerly anticipated exhibition. This is their take.
    Lower Ground Floor Gallery. Admission Free.
    This project and exhibition has been funded by MLA Renaissance East Midlands and The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
  • Great Excavations
    12 June - 5 December 2010
    Church Hole Cave has witnessed the span of archaeological time at Creswell Crags. It was one of the first caves to be excavated by Victorian archaeologists and it has seen some of the most recent discoveries.
    'Great Excavations' looks at how the world of archaeology has changed over the last century. Is it just the methods that have developed, or has a change in the archaeologists' attitudes had a more dramatic effect.
  • Through Different Eyes

    2 January – 6 June 2010

    How many different ways are there of seeing one place? 

    In the summer we asked for your images of Creswell Crags. Our current exhibition proudly displays the winners and runners-up from each age category. Come and see Creswell Crags "Through Different Eyes".

    Admission Free.

  • The Ochre Horse
    28 June - 29 November 2009
    The first temporary exhibition in Creswell Crags' new Museum and Visitor Centre celebrates the return of one of Britain's most important finds. Many words have been used to describe this ‘treasure’ of early British art. However, the only way to appreciate this 12,500 year old etching of a horse is to look it in the eye and be transported.

Experience the new exhibition