The Creswell Heritage Trust

Management and Governance

Creswell Crags is one of the most heavily protected archaeological and geological sites in Britain. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Conservation Area, part of an Area of Local Landscape Significance and a registered Park and Garden. It is managed by the Creswell Heritage Trust.

The Trust is an independent registered charity has to look after the land and facilities at Creswell Crags including the caves, cliffs, footpaths, wildlife, landscape and buildings. Health and safety is a major consideration as the caves and cliffs are potentially dangerous places.

Creswell Crags and the Creswell Heritage Trust

Creswell Crags has long been known as a rich source of archeological finds from the Ice Age.
Recognition in modern times of the scientific importance, vulnerability and popular appeal of Creswell Crags developed during the 1970’s leading to designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1981 and as a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1985. With a view to helping to protect the site and to providing a managed public amenity, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire County Councils negotiated with the landowner, Welbeck Estates, a joint management agreement supported by a 21 year lease on a peppercorn rent.

The lease area comprised the gorge and caves. The Welbeck Estates Company managed the woodlands on either side of the gorge as a pheasant shoot. The terms of the lease still require the gorge to be closed to the public, other than on weekends, during November, December and January as the pheasant shoots take place in the gorge and surrounding woodland during this closed period.

The County Councils took on the lease in 1975 and provided a small car park and picnic area. Steel grills were fitted to the cave entrances in 1976 and a small visitor centre opened in the same year In 2003 three academics discovered the first evidence of Ice Age cave art to be found in the UK within Church Hole Cave at Creswell Crags. The discovery transformed the site and plans were made to remove the sewage works from the meadow and re-route the road which ran through the gorge. The current Museum and Visitor Centre was opened in 2009. Creswell Crags was added to the United Kingdom’s tentative list for nomination for World Heritage Site status in 2012. It is currently working to secure this recognition.