Monday, 3 September 2018

Creswell Crags

A family of swans glide gracefully through calm waters at Creswell Crags, but suddenly the silence is broken by a mélange of ducks dipping and diving around them. This gorge, however, has not always been home to such benevolence, but is keeper of a long held history; a hidden secret which until the dawn of the 20th century was untold. 








Creswell Crags is an enclosed limestone gorge on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and is known as an outstanding Ice Age archaeological site. 

Over fifty thousand years ago its earliest occupants were Neanderthals who lived in the gorge during what was a warm period in the earth's climate. They were accompanied by exotic animal species including lions, hyenas and wallowing hippopotamus. However, when the climate cooled and turned into what we know as the 'Ice Age' only the hyenas were able to adapt to the colder conditions using the many caves as their dens. Eventually they were join in the gorge by woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceros and reindeer. 
We know all of this from the remains that have been found over the past 100 years, some of which include a Neanderthal flint hand-axe dated 60,000-40,000 years old found in one of the caves. A 80,000 year old wolf's tooth, the skull of a Hyena 30,000 years old, and a Woolly rhinoceros tooth 50,000-38,000 years old.   
Ten thousand years ago during the late stages of the Ice Age, our ancestors travelled long distances to hunt and live in Creswell Crags using their caves as shelters. They travelled across Doggerland (now hidden beneath the North Sea) an area of land which once connected Britain to Europe. These ancestors were great hunters and well adapted to surviving the harsh climatic changes towards the end of the Ice Age.


A carving of a Bison done 13,000 years ago. This was found on one of the cave walls as recently as 2003. 

If you are interested to know more about Doggerland and its significance I wrote a post about it here.    

33 comments:

  1. What a wonderful place. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I feel a bit embarrassed to say that we live about 6miles from Creswell and have never ever visited Creswell Crags!! I shall have to make the effort and go! !!

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    1. Do make haste there on a fine day - it is free unless you wish to enter the caves. We parked in the grounds of the Welbeck Abbey Estate and walked from there.

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  3. This is fascinating! Wouldn't it make a good novel -- the Tales of Doggerland!

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  4. Great place and history. Had a good close up look at a hyena in a zoo once, face to face, a few feet away. Something darkly primitive and quite creepy about it whereas other predators have a more modern look and feel about them somehow.

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    1. I saw the hyenas of Ethiopia on the TV yesterday, and there is something quite sinister about their appearance. May be it is something to do with their slopping back ending in short legs and their long legs to the front. However, I did notice their their black faces are really quite appealing.

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  5. It is difficult to imagine such animals as rhinos and hyenas roaming about in England! What an interesting site, and more so as it seems to have only been discovered in relatively recent times. The carving of the bison is absolutely brilliant - like a very modern piece. I remember the map of Doggerland from a previous post, and find it very interesting indeed. There is always something new to learn about our world.

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    1. To think that these animals roam our land here sounds rather bizarre to me too - I am sure that as science progresses our world will continually throw up and reveal even more surprises.

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  6. Fascinating part of history Rosemary. Studied origin of man at University, in particular the major role the Neanderthal people played. It was taught then that Neanderthal Man did not disappear but is represented in modern man.
    Excellent job in summarizing the history of Doggerland.

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    1. There are still such a lot of unknown answers to questions we may have, but science definitely seems to be moving at a far quicker pace than ever before in our history.
      Are you off on your big trip soon?

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    2. Only a few more days and we are off.

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    3. I wish both of you have a wonderful trip💚

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  7. Fascinating- and a beautiful place.

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    1. We felt that this gorge had a rather unique atmosphere.

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  8. Very interesting story Rosemary and the photos are lovely. That is a magnificent swan, so graceful.
    Off to learn more about Doggerland now!

    Mary x

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    1. We visited last week Mary and found it a fascinating place. It is quite near to where I grew up as a child but it is somewhere that I was completely unaware of it at that time.

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  9. What a fascinating post, Rosemary. To think that hyenas and rhinos once roamed Britain! The gorge sounds like an interesting place to visit.

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    1. It is possible to visit the caves with various experts, which we didn't do. The young love going into the caves wearing hard hats with lamps on them to explore, and see some of the finds still in situ.

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  10. Creswell Crags gorge looks wonderful and when you dive into the history it's even much more interesting. The bison carving only recently found fascinates me.

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    1. The bison carving has simplicity of line, but is totally realistic. It captures the essence of a strong and powerful beast.

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  11. Dear Rosemary, your blogs and your photos are always such a delight! Have you ever thought about publishing it in form of a book - I mean, both, writing and photos, are professional (and I do not write this to give you a compliment - I mean, I want to do that: but it is honest!). Thank you! Britta xxx

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    1. I am extremely touched by your generous comment Britta - thank you and I mean that sincerely💚

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  12. Dearest Rosemary,
    At times we all would love to go back in time; way back that is!
    All contours show that way back so many lands have been merged together, even continents!
    And still we're finding answers to this vast riddle of planet earth and its early inhabitants and how they survived.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - walking through this gorge I felt exactly as you have written here - that is, how much I would love to have been present all of those thousands of years ago, and actually see it for myself.

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  13. Beautiful place, wonderful photos.
    Have a nice weekeend
    Maria
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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  14. Thank you for this glimpse of the very ancient history of that part of England. As you say, we are now learning more from science of those times. From our point of view and time, it would have been tough living then. It has been very interesting to watch TV documentaries which reveal a little of those times.

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    1. It is interesting that the history of this gorge was overlooked for so long - it is virtually enclosed and nestles deep within part of Sherwood forest where legendary Robin Hood carried out his exploits.

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  15. Interesting post and beautiful pictures!
    Have a great week, take care...
    Titti

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