Scott’s facts and findings
Welcome to Scott’s tenth column. In this edition, he discusses the recent Festival of Caves…
“During the festival, organised by Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, I was proud to be part of this showcase of the city’s unique man made cave systems which lie beneath much of Nottingham.”
New caves? – “The festival gave me the opportunity to talk to lots of people and I learned a lot about some of the city’s caves, by hearing tales of how they had been used over the years. A number of people also gave me information about possible caves of which the City Council has no record. In the coming weeks, I will be investigating these and I expect the number of known caves to rise.”
The caves we know – “There are approximately 700 known caves recorded by Nottingham City Council, 24 of which have only been identified since 1 July. Of these, approximately 500 are within the city centre. In fact, every street in the city centre has caves beneath.”
The city’s caves are an amazing feature of Nottingham’s heritage. Many of them date to the medieval period, although some are more recent. Indeed a few date to as recently as the 1960s. They give a great insight into the development of the city and have been part of Nottingham’s identity since a Welsh monk named Asser described Nottingham as ‘place of caves’ in the year 893.”
Uses for caves – “Some of the most common functions of Nottingham’s caves include: storage cellars, including beer cellars (most pubs in the city centre have caves beneath because the caves provide a consistently cool temperature all year round, making them ideal for storing beer); tunnels/passages; malt kilns; tanneries; stables; sand mines; follies; air raid shelters.”
Unseen opportunities – “Some caves not usually open to the public were visited during the festival. These included the Ducal Wine Cellar at Nottingham Castle and a cave known as the Cosmic Ray Cave at Brewhouse Yard. If Nottingham City Council is successful in its application for Heritage Lottery Funding these caves, and other caves at the Castle, will be opened up to the public more regularly.
During tours I gave of caves at Brewhouse Yard it was great to see so many people interested in what are quite extensive caves. Many of the people had never been in a cave before, and some did not realise these caves existed, and all appeared to enjoy the experience of walking through hundreds of years of the city’s history.
With this year’s event proving so popular hopefully the festival will be an annual event for many years to come.”