Medieval Times Nottingham Caves To Open To Public

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

According to estimates, Nottingham has about 870 caves, which are believed to date back to at least medieval times.

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

It is being organised by the University of Nottingham in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Underground world

The festival will include free exhibitions, tours and talks about the caves, 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 exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary and activities at the Nottingham University Museum of Archaeology.

Dr Anna Walas, Nottingham Caves’ community archaeology liaison officer who has organised the events, said: “The Being Human festival champions cutting edge humanities research and it 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, wine and ale cellars and accommodation.

The cave at Wollaton Hall even housed an underground plunge pool.

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

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

Dr Christopher King, associate professor in historical archaeology at the University of Nottingham, is the project lead.

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

“They reveal so many stories attached 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 World War Two air raid wardens.

“We’re really pleased that the Being Human festival gives us an opportunity to share our findings and give people exciting new ways of engaging with the city’s hidden heritage.”

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