Uncovering Nottingham's hidden medieval sandstone caves

May 13, 2010

The very latest laser technology combined with old fashioned pedal power is being used to provide a unique insight into the layout of Nottingham's sandstone caves — where the city's renowned medieval ale was brewed and, where legend has it, the country's most famous outlaw Robin Hood was imprisoned.

The Nottingham Survey, being carried out by archaeologists from Trent & Peak Archaeology at The University of Nottingham, has already produced extraordinary, three dimensional, fly through, colour animation of caves that have been hidden from view for centuries.

Below the grounds of Nottingham Castle and across the city there is a labyrinth of medieval tunnels, dungeons, maltings and cellars — people even carved primitive living quarters out of Nottingham's sandstone cliffs.

The man-made caves, cut into the strata of rock known as Sherwood Sandstone, are being recorded by laser scanners, which produce up to 500,000 survey points a second, enabling us to see these excavations as never before.

Archaeologists already know of around 450 caves — some are well documented and currently scheduled monuments of local and national importance. With funding of £250,000 from the Greater Nottingham Partnership, emda, English Heritage, The University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council it is hoped that over the next two and a half years these and many more can be recorded and mapped.

Dr David Walker, of Trent & Peak Archaeology, said: "This remarkable new technology will create a full measured record of the caves in three dimensions. This gives us two really important things — a highly detailed archaeological record of the historic caves, and a new way for people to view caves they may never have seen before. For the first time visitors will be able to explore Nottingham's unique caves with a laptop or smartphone over the web. However, there have to be many more caves that we don't even know about and we want to hear from anyone who might have a sandstone tunnel at the back of their house, office or garden."

The survey will build on the work of the British Geological Survey carried out in the 1980s.

are using environmentally-friendly trailer-pulling bicycles to get themselves and their research equipment about the city. And if you have a cave hidden away in your back garden or at the back of your office block or home they will be more than happy to pop by.

Although many caves and tunnels are blocked up some are still accessible to tourists or used as pub cellars. The project goals are to assess the archaeological importance of Nottingham's caves, to present the caves in a new and exciting way and to preserve Nottingham's unique and fragile resource for future generations.

Explore further: Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

More information: You can read and see more about the Nottingham Caves Survey at: www.nottinghamcavessurvey.org.uk/index.htm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Voracious sponges save reef

Jan 13, 2009

Tropical oceans are known as the deserts of the sea. And yet this unlikely environment is the very place where the rich and fertile coral reef grows. Dutch researcher Jasper de Goeij investigated how caves in the coral reef ...

Digger reveals Tiga's aqua secrets

Mar 01, 2007

Being claustrophobic and allergic to wasps on an island potholed with caves and swarming with giant wasps hasn't deterred UQ archaeologist Ian Lilley from his latest dig. Associate Professor Lilley has been ...

Recommended for you

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

8 hours ago

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

8 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease?

The cause of neuronal death in Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but a new study proposes that neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the person's own immune system, similar to the ...