Nottingham's wondrous caves

Geoff from BLDGBLOG sez,

I thought I'd send a link to a new and very long post I just put up, describing a visit last month to Nottingham, England, where we explored nearly a dozen artificial cave systems, carved directly from the sandstone, with archaeologist David Strange-Walker.

Nottingham, as few people seem to know, is a bit like a sandstone Cappadocia, in the sense that there are at least 450 caves--and quite possibly more than a thousand--that have been cut into the earth, serving as everything from malting kilns to private basements, from jails to "gentlemen's lounges" for underground sessions of cigar-smoking.

We spent literally all day down there, moving from one cave system to another, from pubs to graveyards, and we saw barely a fraction of what's actually under the city. The post includes some animations, tons of photos, and some laser scans produced by David's organization, the Nottingham Caves Survey. At the very least, their work is well worth checking out, as many of the scans (and the resulting videos) are incredible.

Caves of Nottingham (Thanks, Geoff!)


  1. I remember a previous BoingBoing thread about another area with extensive caves.  They had started out as mining tunnels dating back to Roman times, then got enlarged for other purposes… Yet another fascinating area I wish I could explore!

  2. Archaeologist “David Strange-Walker” .

    Vampire hunter?
    Occult Kung-fu Detective?

    I at least hope that mr strange-walker dresses in tweed, with an eye patch and a cape.

  3. Yawn.

    In Douglas, Wyoming, there was an honest to god tunnel from the bank two blocks down to the whorehouse. That way, gentlemen of means could maintain their reputations.

  4. Makes me think of the played-out opal mines that have been expanded and converted into cool underground housing  called dugouts, in the desert climate of Coober Pedy in South Australia .

  5. Just another reason why Nottingham is awesome-I’m from there. It’s better than Coober Pedy, but then that’s…not hard.

    There’s a sanitised tourist attraction under one of the shopping centres that opens up a few of the better caves, including air raid shelters and a medieval tannery. The private cave tours are better, but you often have to walk between sites. The Trip to Jerusalem pub has rooms carved out of caves in the castle rock, and is another good reason to visit. Also these cool caves never seem to pop up in Robin Hood myths, but then neither is the castle situated on a massive lump of sandstone, like it is real life.

  6. I used to live in a house in Nottingham as a student that had its own cave, up Mansfield Road. The rock here is perfect for caving. And also students.

  7. Meanwhile, on Reddit …  

    Girl got lost in the Catacombs below Odessa after a drunken New Year’s Eve party her and her friends had in there. It spans 2,500 kilometers. They found her two years later. (x-post from /r/MorbidReality) (gore/cadaver)

    original thread: 

    “Hello. I`d like to tell you about Odessa katakombs.
    Odessa is not far from the capital of Ukraine – Kiev. Under Odessa consists the biggest katakombs in the world. Their total length is more than 2500 km, so this katakombs are much more bigger than Paris katakombs.
    In fact Odessa katakombs are much more “younger” than katakombs in Paris.
    Stone that was mined there was used for the construction of the city from 1794 till 1980s.
    Nowadays these mines are absolutelly abandoned!
    During the World War II a lot of citizens were hiding in catacombs. A lot of them used to live there for a year and more. So even today it is possible to find weapons, equipment and even dead bodies.
    Every year a lot of explorers lost and even die there.
    Unfortunatelly our government try to close all the entrances to catacombs, but you know, it`s impossible.”


    dear god there’s wine down there


  8. That does it, I’ve gotta go to Nottingham for some underground pub hopping!

    Preferably, rent a narrowboat in the vicinity of London and get there using the British Waterways.  You know, leisurely driving a boat at 5 mph in the heart of the UK, going through canal bridges and tunnels.  Then there’s the locks, hopefully some of them will be manual, so I’d have to operate them!

    After that adventure and before returning home, as long as I’m that corner of the world, I’d love to kill another bird with that stone and drop by Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands, which I visualize as a utopian, distilled essence of what’s referred to as The First World.

  9. Gawd knows what might be down there. Won’t somebody just send in one of those internal structure mapping flying laser robot sphere doodahs? And maybe a pair of timid, yet strangely reckless, geographers.

  10. As a Nottingham native, it pleases me to see my city mentioned for something other than a) the ratio of women to men (which is perfectly average), b) violent crime and c) Robin bloody Hood.

    That said, cool as these caves are, it is a little disquieting when things fall into them from time to time. I remember a few years back when one of the roads in the Lace Market decided to be a hole instead. Good times.

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