Robin Hood's Cave (Creswell Crags)
|Vicinity||E of Creswell village; on N side of Crags Road, c. 530 m ENE of Mansfield Road (A616)|
|Interest||Robin Hood name|
|A.k.a.||Robin Hood Cave; Robin-Hood Cave; Robin Hood Caves; Robin Hood's Hall; Little John's Parlour|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-04-25. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-08.
Robin Hood's Cave is the name of one of the largest caves at Creswell Crags, slightly south-east of Creswell village, on the north side of Crags Road. The cave is located c. 530 m east-northeast of Mansfield Road (A616). It is not clear when the name 'Robin Hood's Cave' came into use, but it occurs in a literary allusion dating from 1841 and subsequently on O.S. maps of the area.
Creswell Crags are a low, southwest–northeast-oriented gorge cutting through a Lower Permian limestone ridge that extends from southern Yorkshire to northern Leicestershire. The Crags straddle the present border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the northern ridge being in Derbyshire, the southern in Nottinghamshire. Individually named caves at the Crags include the Pin Hole Cave, Robin Hood's Cave, the Church Hole, the Arch, the Dog Hole. There are a number of rock-shelters such as the West End Shelters, the Holly Shelter, Mother Grundy's Parlour, the Boat House, and Yew Tree Shelter. Some chambers and fissures also have names. Robin Hood's Cave is in the northern ridge and an entrance to it in the south-facing wall is directly opposite that into the Church Hole in the northern face of the southern ridge. These two caves are the westernmost of the major named features. The bottom of the Crags is traversed by Crags Road which retains its name though converted, in 2005–2006, into a footpath in order to protect this ancient monument from the adverse effects of motor traffic. Quarrying formerly took place near the site. All the caves and Mother Grundy's Parlour contain prehistoric artefacts and other evidence of human use from the middle palaeolithic to the 19th century.
Robin Hood's Cave
Robin Hood's Cave has no less than five entrances and two irregular main chambers which open into several smaller chambers and galleries. 'The cave was known for a long time prior to the first excavations as Robin Hood's Hall and Little John's Parlour'. Among these smaller chambers are Robin Hood's Pantry, Robin Hood's Parlour, Robin Hood's Chamber etc. (see 1841 Allusion included below). According to the official Creswell Crags website, '[l]egend has it that Robin Hood Cave provided a hide out for the famous outlaw to evade capture by the Nottinghamshire authorities. However, as with many Robin Hood tales, it is likely that fiction far outweighs the facts'. While the origin of the name appears to be lost, the earliest occurrence known to IRHB is in Spencer T. Hall's Forester's Offering (1841), cited in the Allusions section below. Reports of archaeological excavations at Creswell Crags, mainly from 1876 on, made the name widely known outside the local area. Until about 40,000 years ago, Robin Hood's Cave was occupied by Neanderthals, who left artifacts such as axes and scrapers made from flint and other types of stone. Members of our own species used the cave from about 22,000 years ago until after the Ice Age, leaving an assortment of tools and animal bones, including the famous Robin Hood Cave Horse. This is now in the British Museum, while a replica can be seen at the Creswell Crags Visitor Centre.Robin Hood's Cave is one of the attractions along the Robin Hood Way (Nottinghamshire). In view of Creswell Crags being situated c. 2 km south-southeast of a village named Whitwell, it is perhaps worth noting that there is also a Robin Hood's Cave in Whitwell, Rutland.
Down on the confines of the county, near to Welbeck Park, are the romantic recesses of Cresswell [sic] Crags and Markland Grips, from which the Wollen winds into Welbeck Lake. These cavernous rocks, which are almost described by their own names, are little inferior in imposing grandeur to some parts of Matlock Dale; and the immortal name of the bold chieftain [sc. Robin Hood] is identified with them, as with all other natural strongholds in this and the approximate counties. Here are clefts—wide, grim, and deep—so deep that their extent is now unknown—the approaches to some of which are extremely difficult. One of them which, though not so extensive as some, is the most remarkable of all, I once explored myself. Its entrance is shaded by a pleasant bower of indigenous trees and shrubs, and the look-out from among these, down the valley, is truly delicious. After procuring a candle from one of the neighbouring cottages, and piercing the gloom for about a dozen yards, I came to a small aperture on the left, perhaps two feet in diameter, having crept through which, I found myself in a magnificent apartment, called Robin Hood's Hall, with walls beautifully coruscant, and so lofty that my light was too diminutive to reach the roof. Beyond this are several other extensive rooms, which, with the rustics in the vicinity, have from generation to generation borne the names of Robin Hood's Pantry, parlour, chamber, etc. In a recess in one of the rooms, is a spring of clear, cold water; and I should think this cave alone of sufficient magnitude to accomodate fifty outlaws, with plenty of room for six [p. 22:] months' stores, and every convenience for cooking and domestic recreation,—so that with a grey stone rolled against the entrance, which would have the appearance of a portion of the solid rock to any intruder from without—admitting any stranger bold enough to attempt an intrusion in such darkly-superstitiuous times—the whole band might winter here without the slightest fear of molestation from those who could have any evil disposition towards them.
Supposing, then, this rocky fortification to have been the winter retreat of Robin and his hardy band; imagining him to have drawn around him here, during his Christmas festivities amid scenes so strange and wild, the homeless, the world-weary, the bereaved, the persecuted, the outcast and the forlorn, of all denominations, and to have made them all nobles in his own free court; then imagining again the winter to have passed away, and spring to have filled the heavens with sunshine, the earth with verdure, and the heart of man and every living thing with hope and gladness; and then, O! then, when he sallied at length into the Forest, what a vast scene of magnificence, and majesty, and wonder, and beauty, must have awaited his buoyant, exultant out-stepping!
- Not included in Dobson, R. B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), pp. 293-311.
- Brown J.; Lewis, B.; Sheppard, R. 'Fieldwork in Derbyshire by Trent & Peak Archaeological Unit in 2004–2006', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, vol. 127 (2007), pp. 114-38
- Creswell Crags: the Caves
- Wikipedia: Robin Hood Cave Horse.
- 25" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.16 (c. 1877; surveyed c. 1873). No copy in NLS
- 25" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.16 (1898; rev. 1897) (georeferenced)
- 25" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.16 (1898; rev. 1897)
- 25" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.16 (1916; rev. 1914)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (1884; surveyed 1875)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (1886; surveyed 1875–84)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (1899; rev. 1897) (georeferenced)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (1899; rev. 1897)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX (1923; rev. 1914)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (1923; rev. 1914)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (c. 1934; rev. 1914)
- 6" O.S. map Derbyshire XIX.SE (c. 1950; rev. 1947).
- Museum Crush: Decoding the witch Marks deep inside the Caves at Creswell Crags
- Nottingham Hidden History Team: Robin Hood and his Place Names In Nottinghamshire
- Nottingham Wayfarers' Rambling Club; Price, Roland, introd. The Robin Hood Walks: A Comprehensive Guide to Walks in Robin Hood Country including the Third Edition of the Guide to the Full Route of Nottinghamshire's First Recreational Footpath, The Robin Hood Way (Leicester: Cordee, ©1994), pp. 70, 71, 73, 98
- Robin Hood was here: Robin Hood's Cave, Creswell
- Bahn, Paul G.; Pettitt, Paul; Chamberlain, Andrew, contrib. Britain's Oldest Art: The Ice Age Cave Art of Creswell Crags (English Heritage) (Swindon, 2009)
- Campbell, J. B. 'Excavations at Creswell Crags: Preliminary Report', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, vol. 89 (1969), pp. 47-58
- Campbell, John B. The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain: a Study of Man and Nature in the Late Ice Age (Oxford, 1977); not seen
- Charles, R.; Jacobi, R. M.; Cook, J.; Beasley, M. J. 'The Lateglacial Fauna from the Robin Hood Cave, Creswell Crags: a Re-Assessment', Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 13 (1994), pp. 1-32
- Charles, R. 'Creswell, Cheddar and Paviland: Caves, Cannibals and Carnivores', Current Archaeology, vol. 160 (1998), pp. 131-35
- Cheshire Now: Cresswell Crags
- Boyd–Dawkins, W. 'Recent Discoveries in Derbyshire', Pall Mall Magazine, vol. ? (1875), pp. ?-?
- Dawkins, William Boyd. 'On the Mammalia and Traces of Man in Robin Hood's Cave', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 32 (1876), 245-58
- Dawkins, William Boyd. 'On the Mammal-Fauna of the Caves of Creswell Crags', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 33 (1877), pp. 589-612
- Dawkins, William Boyd; Mello, J. M. 'Further Discoveries in the Cresswell Caves', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 35 (1879), pp. 724-35
- Derbyshire Historic Environment Record: Scheduled Monument record MDR6573 – Robin Hood's Cave, Creswell Crags, Hodthorpe and Belph
- FaceBook: Creswell Crags
- Farnsfield Walks: The Robin Hood Way: Norton to Creswell Crags and The Harley Gallery
- Garrod, Dorothy A. E. The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain (Oxford, 1926), pp. 150-56
- Heritage Gateway: Historic England Research Records: Robin Hoods Cave (Hob Uid: 891376)
- Jenkinson, Rogan D. S. The Archaeological Caves and Rock Shelters in the Creswell Crags Area (Creswell Crags Visitor Centre Research Report, No. 1) ([Worksop], 1978)
- Jenkinson, Rogan D. S. Creswell Crags: Late Pleistocene Sites in the East Midlands (British Archaeological Reports, British Series, vol. 122) (Oxford, 1984); not seen
- The Megalithic Portal: Robin Hood's Cave – Cave or Rock Shelter in England in Derbyshire
- Mello, John Magens. 'On some Bone-Caves in Creswell Crags', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 31 (1875), pp. 679-83
- Mello, John Magens. 'On the Bone Caves of Creswell.—2nd Paper', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 32 (1876), pp. 240-59
- Mello, John Magens. 'The Bone-caves of Creswell Crags.—3rd Paper', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 33 (1877), pp. 579-88
- Mello, John Magens. 'Palæolithic Man at Cresswell', Journal of the Derbyshire Archæological and Natural History Society, vol. I (1879), pp. 15-24
- The Modern Antiquarian: Creswell Crags: Cave/Rock Shelter
- Pettitt, Paul, ed.; Bahn, Paul, ed.; Ripoll, Sergio, ed. Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context (Oxford; New York, 2007)
- Pike, Alistair W. G.; Gilmour, Mabs; Pettitt, Paul; Jacobi, Roger; Ripoll, Sergio; Bahn, Paul; Muñoz, Francisco. 'Verification of the Age of the Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 32 (2005), pp. 1649–55; not seen
- The Prehistoric Tourist: Church Hole and Robin Hood Caves
- stone-circles.org.uk: Creswell Crags, Paleolithic Cave Dwelling and Carvings, East of Creswell, Derbyshire
- Show Caves of Great Britain: Creswell Crags
- Wikipedia: Creswell Crags
- Wikishire: Robin Hood's Cave, Creswell Crags
- Young, John. 'On Mammalian Remains from Cresswell Crag Bone Caves', Transactions of the Geological Society of Glasgow, vol. 9 (1891), pp. 210-12.
- VIMEO: Creswell Crags Witch Mark Cave (Jeremy Lee)
- YouTube: Creswell Crags: An Ice Age Frontier (AncientCraftUK – Dr. James Dilley)
- YouTube: Creswell Crags (Archaeology Simplified)
- YouTube: Creswell Crags 4K Virtal Tour – A PreHistoric Adventure (Expedition Dean)
- YouTube: John Charlesworth: The Amazing Rock Art of Creswell Crags Caves, Derbyshire (The Megalithic Portal)
- YouTube: Visiting Creswell Crags (BenwaysWorld).
- Creswell Crags place-name cluster
- Places named Robin Hood's Cave
- Places named after Little John
- Robin Hood Way (Nottinghamshire).
- Campbell, J. B. 'Excavations at Creswell Crags: Preliminary Report', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, vol. 89 (1969), pp. 47-58, see pp. 47–48; Creswell Crags: the Caves; Wikipedia: Creswell Crags.
- Derbyshire Historic Environment Record: Scheduled Monument record MDR6573 – Robin Hood's Cave, Creswell Crags, Hodthorpe and Belph.
- Creswell Crags: the Caves; Wikipedia: Robin Hood Cave Horse.
- Hall, Spencer Timothy. The Forester's Offering (London, 1841), p. 21.
Click any image to display it in the lightbox, where you can navigate between images by clicking in the right or left side of the current image.
Robin Hood's Cave / Richard Croft, 2 Jan. 2012; Creative Commons, via Geograph.
Robin Hood Cave / Andrew Abbott, 30 Mar. 2019; Creative Commons, via Geograph.
Robin Hood Cave, Creswell Crags / Tim Heaton, 22 Feb. 2009; Creative Commons, via Geograph.
Creswell – entrance gate to Robin Hood's Cave / Dave Bevis, 27 June 3013; Creative Commons, via Geograph.
Cresswell Crags / James Hill, 15 Sep. 2007; Creative Commons, via Geograph.
View of Creswell Crags, looking east / Mello, John Magens. 'On some Bone-Caves in Creswell Crags', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 31 (1875), pp. 679-83; see p. 679, fig. 1.
Rough ground plan of Robin Hood's Cave / Mello, John Magens. 'On the Bone Caves of Creswell.—2nd Paper', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 32 (1876), pp. 240-59; see p. 241, fig. 1.
Section in line 1 of rough ground plan / Mello, John Magens. 'On the Bone Caves of Creswell.—2nd Paper', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 32 (1876), pp. 240-59; see p. 242, fig. 2.
Section in line 2 of rough ground plan / Mello, John Magens. 'On the Bone Caves of Creswell.—2nd Paper', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 32 (1876), pp. 240-59; see p. 243, fig. 3.
Ground plan and sections of Robin Hood's Cave / Mello, John Magens. 'The Bone-caves of Creswell Crags.—3rd Paper', Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 33 (1877), pp. 579-88; see fig. 8, facing p. 588.