Creswell Crags has taken an important step towards the wider recognition of its significant Ice Age heritage by joining the prestigious Ice Age Europe Network. The network includes famous prehistoric sites including the Neanderthal Museum in Germany, the Museum of Altamira in Spain and Scladina Cave Archaeological Museum in Belgium, as well as eight others, including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Creswell Crags during a cold period of the Ice Age (artist’s impression)

The sites share a common heritage: they are all important in our understanding of the Pleistocene, a period from 2.6 million years ago to 11.7 thousand years ago, commonly referred to as the Ice Age, though temperatures rose and fell through the vast time period. In this time there is evidence of Neanderthal humans sheltering and hunting at Creswell Crags, and, about 13,000 years ago rock art was carved into the walls of Church Hole Cave, when nomadic early Homo Sapiens humans used the caves for shelter. The limestone gorge at Creswell Crags has also yielded extensive finds – of animal remains and flint tools – from this time. At different times, depending on the climate, the site was home to hippos, hyaenas, woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses. The cave art is some of the oldest art in Britain, and one of the only known examples of prehistoric cave art in the UK.

Sign outside of Robin Hood Cave at Creswell Crags

Dr Angharad Jones, Curator at Creswell Crags said:

“Joining the Ice Age Europe network is incredibly exciting for Creswell Crags. Given that the archaeological and palaeontological events that occurred during the Ice Age in Creswell Crags are a part of a wider story happening across Europe, it makes sense that we link with sites in other countries. Joining the network means that we get to grow our audience and reach people in wider Europe, sharing the prehistory of Creswell Crags, but also learning from them. On a personal level, it means that I can engage with museum professionals from sites that are similar to Creswell Crags. The other museums have given us a very warm welcome, and I am excited to work with them on future projects related to the network.”

Being part of this collaborative network will give the team at Creswell Crags connections at museums and heritage sites across Europe, as well as the potential for shared articles and social media, online events, hosting travelling exhibitions and more. It is a network which will help put Creswell Crags on the map for archaeologists, students and visitors alike.

The aim of Creswell Crags is to help visitors – and researchers – delve deeper into the human story, and to reflect on what it means to be human. The story of early humans in Britain is inextricably connected to mainland Europe, and making these connections will help add depth and detail to the picture of life in this limestone gorge on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border over twelve thousand years ago.

Stone Tool found at Creswell Crags

Ice Age Europe Day will be marked on September 19th 2021: the first time that the team will plan special activities to celebrate this day along with colleagues across Europe.

See the Creswell Crags page on the Ice Age Europe Network website by clicking here