Saturday, 8 August 2015

France in Britain

Creswell Crags

This week flipping between entertaining my son on summer holiday and all the things I should do in two weeks are taking their toll. The blog will be short, but presenting a magical place on the boundary of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire where one can imagine being in France. Yes, this landscape at Creswell Crags is like the limestone cliffs of Dorgdogne. If you bring your baguettes and red wine [analcoholic if driving] with you to the picnic, you will be whisked momentarily somewhere else. Like teleporting in Star Trek, but instantly achievable with a car and one hour up M1.

Around the Dog Hole cave

Similarly to the limestone cliffs of Dordogne, Creswell Crags dons a series of caves. Not as deep and breathtaking, but the only site in Britain with cave art. There are no paintings, but scratchings and carvings in the walls of a few of the caves. These depict bisons, deer and birds. Some are clear, but some need all the imagination you have in order to be separated from the folds in the rock.

The Museum

This place was known to have had ancient human visits since the late 19th century, but the cave art was found in the early 2000s. The museum opened in 2009 and I noticed that the Heritage Lottery funding for the Limestone Journeys, having modest funding for improvements in the visitor experience and recording and caring about dry stone walling, will finish this year. Considering the huge savings that have to be made in unprotected departments in the national budgets, will Creswell Crags Museum be open in five years? The Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville is no more, since the Leicestershire council closed it down at the end of July - and has to pay back grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund. How many other lovely museums and local resources will close in the future? My advice is to visit now.

'Exploring Archaeology online - Stonehenge, Creswell Crags and beyond' were advertised by the WEA for Chesterfield for September 2015 and for Derby< for October 2015; sadly, there were not enough enrolments so these courses were cancelled, but we will see if they will be rescheduled for next year.

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