Rarely seen Nottingham Caves open to the public

Some of the caves date back to the Middle Ages

People will have the chance to explore some of a city’s rarely seen caves, as part of a festival.

According to estimates, Nottingham has around 870 caves, which are believed to date back to at least the Middle Ages.

The Being Human festival, which will celebrate the city’s heritage, will run from 10 to 19 November.

It is organized by the University of Nottingham in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.


The festival will include free exhibits, cave tours and talks, including a rare tour of a cave system at Wollaton Hall.

There will also be free City of Caves tours at the National Justice Museum, along with interactive exhibits at Nottingham Contemporary and activities at Nottingham University’s Museum of Archeology.

Dr Anna Walas, Nottingham Caves Community Archeology Liaison Officer who organized the events, said: “The Being Human festival supports cutting-edge humanistic research and is an excellent opportunity to share fascinating research. with our local communities and celebrate our city and its heritage. “

Many of the caves have had multiple uses throughout history, including being used as air raid shelters, cellars, and lodgings for wine and beer.

Wollaton Hall cave even housed an underground pool.

The caves

The caves vary in size and had a wide range of uses

The caves vary in size, but the largest – which could hold eight thousand people – was discovered under the John Player tobacco factory, west of the city.

Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the caves and even explore them using virtual reality headsets at the festival launch event, titled What Lies Beneath, at Nottingham Contemporary on 11 November.

Dr Christopher King, associate professor of historical archeology at the University of Nottingham, is the project leader.

He said: “Nottingham’s caves are a unique part of the city’s heritage – no other British city has this underworld beneath its streets and buildings.

“They reveal so many stories related to key moments in the city’s history and our research is trying to bring these stories to life, from medieval brewers to Luddite rebels and WWII air raid guardians.

“We are delighted that the Being Human festival gives us the opportunity to share our discoveries and offer people exciting new ways to engage with the city’s hidden heritage.”

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