Ye Olde Caves of Nottingham… (The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis)
In my middle-grade/young adult time travel book, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, my feisty group of adolescent characters’ first mission lands then in England in 1214 where they must find a young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens. Legend has it that one of Robin Hood’s haunts (besides the famous Sherwood Forest) was the village of Nottingham. When I undertook the meticulous research needed to craft my novel, I came across an interesting fact about Nottingham I had never known: beneath the houses, shops, and offices of Nottingham are hundreds of caves. My eyes bugged and imagination went into overdrive, while I gathered fact after fact about the Nottingham caves. In truth, it was similar to panning for gold nuggets.
The end result of the information I gleaned is woven into my story, but I’d like to share some other interesting facts about these not-so-famous caves:
- The earliest written record of Nottingham’s caves comes from a Welsh monk called Asser who when writing about Nottingham in 868 referred to the town as Tig Guocobauc, meaning house or place of caves in British.
- Nottingham has more man-made caves than anywhere else in Britain.
- The exposed cliff of the sandstone outcrop made this an obvious place for the early citizens of Nottingham to make their home. The occupants of these cave houses were generally poor and the caves were known as pauper holes.
- Each cave is unique and created for a specific purpose; some even have elaborate carvings, pillars and staircases.
- The softness of Nottingham’s sandstone makes it easy to excavate with hand tools, and the structural stability means that excavated caves are safe to use, even with buildings above them.
- Throughout the medieval period Nottingham continued to grow and prosper becoming a center for trades such as wool manufacture, tanning, malting, alabaster carving and pottery production. A number of these activities were undertaken in Nottingham’s caves.
- Sandstone caves maintain a constant temperature of around 14 degrees Celsius/ 57.2 Fahrenheit and therefore made excellent cellars for the storage of ale.
- At the start of the Second World War new caves were excavated and old ones reused to act as Air Raid shelters.
Believe it or not, few people in Nottingham are aware of this labyrinth, and fewer still have visited them. Unfortunately, in these modern times, a significant number of caves has been filled in with cement or bricked up, with others disappearing through natural collapse. There’s a special project underway called the Nottingham Caves Survey which hopes to survey and document all the caves under Nottingham, and bring awareness to this unique historical resource. I invite you to find out more about the caves HERE.
and have a blast.
is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE
LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM
FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading,
exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a
serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her
hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.
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