Witch Marks

New for 2019. Hundreds of protective marks, also known as Witches Marks, have been discovered at Creswell Crags. This is believed to be the largest collection ever found in the UK. Join our tour guide for a unique opportunity to discover the most recent secret revealed at Creswell Crags. Read about our Witch Mark discovery here.

Witch marks at Creswell Crags

What are Witch Marks?

Ritual Protection Marks
Commonly known as Witch Marks these Apotropaic marks, from the Greek apotrepein, meaning ‘to turn away’, are most commonly found carved on stone or woodwork near a building’s doorways, windows and fireplaces, to protect inhabitants and visitors from evil spirits.

A few have been recorded at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and spotted in medieval barns like the Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn, where they were etched into the ancient timber to protect crops.

“the largest assemblage of protective marks ever found in British caves, and possibly anywhere in Britain”

Academic and TV presenter, Professor Ronald Hutton, an authority on folklore, says:

“This discovery is significant because it looks like the largest assemblage of protective marks ever found in British caves, and possibly anywhere in Britain. This is a suddenly a large new area of research for historians and archaeologists, and so adds appreciatively to the importance of the Crags as a world resource. This is a hugely important and exciting find, in one of the main current growth areas of knowledge about the past. Creswell Crags has already amazed the twenty-first century with its revelations of Palaeolithic designs. Now it does so again with a fresh one of medieval and early modern ritual protection marks on a huge scale, making a very important contribution, at a stroke, to one of the most significant current areas of new scholarly research.”

Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of Historic England said of the discovery:

“Creswell Crags is already of international importance for its Ice Age art and ancient remains.  To find this huge number of protection marks from the more recent past adds a whole new layer of discovery.  Even two hundred years ago the English countryside was a very different place, death and disease were everyday companions and evil forces could readily be imagined in the dark.  One can only speculate on what it was the people of Creswell feared might emerge from the underworld into these caves.”

Witch marks at Creswell Crags

Tours

All our tours can be booked via our website bookings page, which can be found below. If you require any further information or need assistance regarding your tour booking, please call our friendly team at 01909 720378 or email info@creswell-crags.org.uk.

Life In The Ice Age Tour

Find deeper meaning in the connection between our shared deep past and your own experiences.

This tour takes you into the three main chambers of our largest cave, Robin Hood Cave.  Hear how archaeologists pieced together the fragments from this fascinating time to discover the lives of the Ice Age people and animals that visited many thousands of years before you.

About Booking

We offer two options for all our tours in these times of COVID-19.  You can choose between a Private cave tour, exclusive to your household bubble, or a Public cave tour if you are happy to mix with other households.  The maximum number of people admitted on the Life In The Ice Age Cave Tour is 6.  Social distancing and face coverings are required in the cave and visitor centre (unless exempt).  Tour Terms & Conditions apply

Private: £30 per private group (plus £10 per additional person over 2 people)

Public: £10 per person (minimum booking of 1 person)

Witch Marks Tour

Immerse yourself in the adventure of ancient caves. Then refresh and rejuvenate in the light of our meadow, lake and gorge.

This tour takes you into the first chambers of Robin Hood Cave, where huge numbers of historic protective symbols ("witch marks") were discovered in 2018.  Hear tales of superstition and fear and how the residents of early modern Creswell responded to the caves on their doorstep.

About Booking

We offer two options for all our tours in these times of COVID-19.  You can choose between a Private cave tour, exclusive to your household bubble, or a Public cave tour if you are happy to mix with other households.  The maximum number of people admitted on the Witch Mark Tour is 6.  Social distancing and face coverings are required in the cave and visitor centre (unless exempt).  Tour Terms & Conditions apply

Private: £30 per private group (plus £10 per additional person over 2 people)

Public: £10 per person (minimum booking of 1 person)

Creswell Crags Talk & Exhibition Tour

 

Delve into the deep past and hear the fascinating stories of the people and animals who visited our caves during the last Ice Age. Discover how our caves provided not only shelter but also a canvas for some of Britain’s early artists, and see some of the tools and weapons made by both modern humans and Neanderthals.

In this introduction to Creswell Crags, our Heritage Facilitators will bring our archaeology to life with a presentation and talk about the site, followed by a guided tour of our main exhibition. The whole experience lasts up to an hour, and is all located on the same floor of the Visitor Centre. Please note, this is not a tour of our caves and does not include going into the caves or the outside areas of the site. As such, it is fully accessible and not affected by the weather. However you will need to book a separate cave tour if you wish to see inside the caves. 

About Booking

This tour is for a maximum of 8 people, including children. All children must be accompanied by an adult. This tour will be available on weekends from November to February. The following tour times are available: 11:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm* (*subject to change – see booking page of the website for availability).

Tour Price: £8 adults, £5 children (under 18s)