Creswell Crags
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creswell viewCreswell Crags, Derbyshire is a limestone gorge in the north of the county near to Clowne. There is evidence of much human activity from the Paleolithic, in and around the caves that can be seen all along the gorge. Both Neanderthal and modern humans lived here between 50,000 - 30,000 years ago and their tool kits have been uncovered in excavations since the mid 19th century.

The first person to work on the site was a vicar, the Rev Magens Mello, who began work in
1875 after mammoth bones were found in soil during the demolition of a water mill. The building was knocked down to make way for a duck shooting lake for the Duke of Portland, who owned the land.  Mello and two colleagues, Professor Boyd Dawkins and Thomas Heath, worked on several of the caves, beginning with Pin Hole Cave, where the mammoth remains were found. Few human artefacts were uncovered,  however, and the team soon moved on to Robin Hood Cave and Church Hole Cave. Although they found plenty of stone tools and other items they were not particularly meticulous and it is believed that a great deal of evidence was lost.

a cave entranceWork at Creswell continued into the 20th century and the latest excavations took place in the 1980s.  Among the finds at Robin Hood Cave were a number of flint and quartzite hand tools such as points, burins (boring tools) and scrapers. There were also various animal bones showing evidence of butchery, including reindeer dating from the Neanderthal settlement and arctic hare from around 12,500 years ago. Later artefacts include decorated pieces of bone, one with a geometric cross-hatched pattern one with an engraving of a horse and another notched disc that might have been some form of jewellery.


Among the other Robin Hood finds was a piece of amber that could have been some form of amulet. The resin has a long history of use as a protection against illness and was put on wounds as recently as the 19th century in a bid to prevent infection. Tests have shown that the amber must have come from at least as far away as the East coast but chemically identical pieces are also found in the Baltic so it might have travelled even further. Whether it was collected at the coast by the band that used Creswell or whether it was traded is impossible to tell.
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