Do you have stories about Nottingham's caves?
Watch this video to find out more about Echoes: The City of Caves Oral History Project
'Echoes': The City of Caves Oral History Project
Click here to find our more about Echoes: The City of Caves Oral History Project
City of Caves project outline
A team of researchers are carrying out extensive work on historical records and maps, archaeological data, photographic archives, and existing 3D laser scans of the caves which could be used in a new immersive VR caves experience. They are also identifying gaps in historical and geographical knowledge of the area that need to be filled. The work is feeding into the plans being drawn up by the Broad Marsh Development Partnership which includes Nottingham City Council, the Nottingham Project (the council’s place-making and branding initiative), Nottingham Museums and Galleries Service and the National Justice Museum.
The partnership capitalises on the city’s rich history in the design of the new public spaces and visitor attractions. From humble roots as an Anglo-Saxon settlement and later a Danelaw borough, Nottingham became an important royal outpost with its medieval castle which was eventually demolished in 1651. The city’s extensive network of manmade caves dates back 1000 years. These were carved into the soft sandstone underground and used as dwellings, workplaces, and storage spaces for many centuries.
The medieval ‘Broad Marsh’ was an important and busy waterside zone with a Franciscan friary and burial ground, but it later declined into an area of slum housing. These ancient streets were only cleared in the 1970s to make way for the modern Broadmarsh shopping centre, now partly demolished amid the ongoing development of the southern city centre.
John Speed’s plan of the city of Nottingham, 1610, courtesy of Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham
In November 2022, we held a series of free events as a part of Being Human, the UK’s national festival of the Humanities. These included tours of caves at Wollaton Hall and the National Justice Museum’s City of Caves attraction, as well as a range of talks and community events. We are continuing to work with community groups and societies, such as the Nottingham Historical and Archaeological Society, Nottingham Civic Society and The Thoroton Society, to map local knowledge of the caves and the city’s street system before the 1970s Broadmarsh centre was built.
Do you have information about Nottingham’s caves you would like to share, or feedback on our project so far? Whether you are a community archaeologist, a cave owner, an independent researcher or have any information you would like to share, please get in touch with the project team.
Here is a series of images from the cave tours. You can click on the carousel images to enlarge them. Photographer: Marcus Holdsworth.