Creswell Crags

Creswell Crags is a site of archaeological and palaeontological importance. The picturesque gorge contains more than twenty caves and rock shelters, which have been excavated and researched since the 1870s.
The story of the Ice Age at Creswell Crags can be explored through cave tours, a visit to the museum and temporary exhibitions, a birthday party, a school visit (in-person or online), our online talks and Patreon page, or engaging in any of the varied activities happening throughout the year.

Engraved bison in Church Hole
Engraved bison in Church Hole. Credit: George Nash

While Ice Age rock art has long been known elsewhere in Europe, it was only discovered in Britain in 2003: here at Creswell Crags. The oldest art dates to more than 12,800 years ago, and includes images of a red deer stag, a bison, and ibis.

The gorge, woodland and meadow

Creswell Crags is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species, and offers a great many rewards for nature lovers and photographers throughout the year. The woodland path runs next to a bubbling stream, and is especially lovely with dappled sunlight. The gorge, with its craggy cliffs and lake, provides a scenic walk, and ample opportunity to take photographs and view wildlife.

A small river meanders through a lush green forest.
Woodland path. Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust

The caves

Creswell Crags is home to more than 20 caves and rock shelters, which have yielded rich deposits of archaeological and palaeontological material.

The earliest material found in the caves is from the last interglacial, a warm period 125,000 years ago, during which hippopotamus, narrow-nosed rhinoceros and spotted hyaenas were present in the landscape. Later, during the middle of the last glacial period (55,000 to 40,000 years ago), cold adapted animals were present, such as woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and reindeer, alongside hyaenas again. Hyaenas are an important part of the Creswell Crags story; they denned in the caves, as evidenced by remains of the hyaenas and their prey.

No humans were present in Creswell Crags, nor in wider Britain, during the last interglacial. However, the last glacial period saw two human species. Around 55,000 to 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals inhabited the area, leaving behind large numbers of their stone tools. Later, there were multiple visits by early modern humans, as evidenced through their stone and bone tools. They also left behind evidence of their diet: mountain hare and wild horse, dated to around 15,000 to 13,600 years ago.  

A glimpse into a cave.
Inside Robin Hood Cave. Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust

The museum

The museum showcases many of the archaeological and palaeontological items found within Creswell Crags. Examples of Ice Age art (the ‘ochre horse’ and ‘Pin Hole Man’) are on display, loaned from the British Museum. 125,000-year-old hippo jaws, Neanderthal stone tools, and a woolly rhinoceros jaw are among the other items that can be seen.
One item of note is an almost complete juvenile spotted hyaena skeleton found in Pin Hole. While hyaena remains have been commonly found in Britain and the rest of Europe (indeed, many adult hyaenas are also on display), juvenile hyaenas are less common, and almost complete skeletons rarer still.

Hyena bones spread out on a table.
Juvenile spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta). Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust


The collections are split into four sections: Palaeontology and Archaeology Collection, Comparative Collection, Handling Collection, and Library Collection.
Given that the museum at Creswell Crags did not exist until the 1970s, much of the material from earlier excavations is held elsewhere. Nevertheless, the collections at Creswell Crags are comprised of thousands of specimens from Creswell Crags and the wider Creswell Heritage Area. The majority of these items are faunal remains and stone tools.
The Comparative Collection is comprised of recent cranial and post-cranial specimens of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Some species lived in Creswell Crags during the Ice Age, and are therefore useful in aiding identification of fossil bones and teeth. Other species have never lived in Creswell Crags, but are useful for education and outreach.
The Handling Collection contains a wider variety of items, including replica lithics. Handling boxes may be used by schools.
The Library Collection includes many books, papers and theses relating to Creswell Crags, archaeology and palaeontology. There are also records of some of the excavations undertaken in Creswell Crags and the wider Creswell Heritage Area.

Many boxes filled with artifacts from the excavations are lined up on a shelf.
Collections Store. Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust


Creswell Crags Museum & Heritage Centre
Crags Road
S80 3LH
United Kingdom

Getting there

Buses and trains run to the area. There is a car park on site.

Opening Times and Tickets

Please follow these links:


A map is available that outlines the wheelchair accessible route from the museum building to the gorge. This can be collected at reception. Due to the nature of the site, the cave entrances are located high in the rockfaces and are not be suitable for some people with mobility problems. The building is wheelchair accessible, with a lift between the two floors.

Other services

Our café has a range of food and drinks to eat in or take away.

The shop has a variety of books, gifts, toys and souvenirs for all ages.

A group of children with hard hats and flashlights inside a dark cave.

Birthday cave tour activity. Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust

An adult is explaining to a child how to handle a spear-thrower while two other children observe.

Spear throwing activity. Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust

A group of children is engaged in conversation with a storyteller near the entrance of a cave.

Stone Age Story Time. Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust

Programmes and Activities

There is a permanent exhibition, in addition to a programme of temporary exhibitions, which may be related to palaeontology or archaeology. Other exhibitions display works of artists, or are related to the local community.
Some of the caves can be visited on a guided cave tour. Topics include life in the Ice Age, art in the Ice Age, and witch marks. Tours are conducted in English.
A wide variety of events and activities run throughout the year, providing something to engage adults and children alike. Trails run frequently throughout the year, providing an additional way for children to explore the gorge, woodland and meadow.
In addition, children may enjoy a birthday party hosted at Creswell Crags, or uniform groups (such as guides and scouts) may visit to achieve the ‘Creswell Crags Life on the Edge challenge’ badge.
Online talks run frequently throughout the year, focusing on palaeontology, archaeology, ecology and folklore. Recordings of many talks are available on Patreon.
There are a variety of educational activities for schools, home education, further education and adult groups.

Bolsover Castle from afare in a winter landscape
Bolsover Castle. Credit Robbogreen13, CC BY-SA 3.0

Creswell Crags is located on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border, and close to South Yorkshire.
Nottinghamshire has a number of excellent attractions from contemporary and historic art galleries to extreme adventure centres. One example is Sherwood Forest, an ancient woodland and historic royal hunting ground that is best known for the legendary Robin Hood. Creswell Crags forms part of the Welbeck Estate, which is the historic home of the Duke of Portland and offers a variety of events and leisure activities.
The Derbyshire landscape includes the Peak National Park and beyond. The area is renowned for the great stately homes of Hardwick Hall and Bolsover Castle and much of the surrounding land is owned by the Duke of Devonshire and is part of the Chatsworth Estate. The home of Bess of Hardwick is a rare Elizabethan ‘prodigy house’ and  is one of the most important architectural jewels owned by the National Trust. Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Old Hall are both owned by English Heritage.
To the north, Yorkshire offers a wide variety of attractions. Sheffield is the most immediate urban area and boasts a lively nightlife and excellent restaurants and cultural establishments.