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Monument record MDR6568 - Mother Grundy's Parlour, Creswell Crags, Hodthorpe and Belph

Type and Period (5)

  • (Lower Palaeolithic to Roman - 500000 BC to 409 AD)
  • (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)
  • (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

SK 53587426 Mother Grundy's Parlour, Middle Palaeolithic Occupation. No extant evidence for Mousterian Occupation, but an ironstone biface reported by Mello and Boyd Dawkins and now lost, could date to this period. Otherwise occupation at this time was by animals such as hyenas. Later Upper Palaeolithic occupation in at least 2 stages, the first characterised by convex backed and angle backed tools, the second by convex, angle and trapezoidal backed tools. Poorly understood Mesolithic occupation of the talus area associated with radiocarbon date of 7602 BC. Artefacts collected included microliths. (1) North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1944. (2) Trench excavated along the eastern wall of the cave. As work progressed the trench was extended into the eastern passage area. By the end of 1876, virtually all of the in situ sediment inside the cave had been excavated. (3) Armstrong's trench in May 1923 indicated that the talus area was in situ and contained artefacts. Extensive excavation during late 1923 followed. Multiple flint and chert artefacts were found. (4) Further work in the talus of Mother Grundy's Parlour was undertaken primarily in the extreme eastern area of the talus and proved artificially sterile. Sedimentological data, complementary to that published by Campbell, was obtained. (6) Roman brooch and coin recovered from McBurney excavation in 1960, reported by Stanley West. Excavation took place within the area partially excavated by Armstrong. Samples of charcoal were subsequently radiocarbon dated to 8800 +/- 300 years BP and 7602 +/- 140 years BP, too young for an association with Creswellian lithic industry. (7, 10) Possibly Neolithic sherds from Campbell excavation. Six adjacent meter squares were excavated outside the present shelter entrance. Mesolithic artefacts and Upper Palaeolithic artefacts were found beneath a capping of 19th and 20th century 'tip' layer and Neolithic to 19th century humus. 'Pen-knife' points and possibly a shouldered point were found towards the the thermoclastic scree. Wild horse, 'giant Irish elk' and wild boar faunal remains were well represented as probably abundant food animals. (11-12) Fragments of four skeletons, children and youths, found in cave floor during Dawkins excavation, 1875. (13) The British Museum holds a number of artefacts from Creswell Crags. A full index is available. (15) The Musuem of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge (previously known as the Archaeology and Ethnography Museum) holds material from Creswell Crags. A full index is available. (16) All material that was previously held in in Bassetlaw Museum (previously Worksworth Museum) has been transferred back to Creswell Crags. Material once held were artefacts from Mother Grundy's Parlour. (17) A large collection of material from John Campbell's excavations at Robin Hood Cave and Mother Grundy’s Parlour in 1969 was once held at the independent Donald Baden Powell Quaternary Research Centre on the Museum's premises, but never formed part of its collections. This collection was donated by Campbell to Creswell Crags in 2007. The Museum's collection of Creswell Crags material is limited to two casts of blades from Robin Hood Cave. (18) Mother Grundy's Parlour was a significant site immediately following the Ice Age in the Mesolithic period. Radiocarbon dates from charred hazel nut shells and burnt wild cattle bone suggests a camp sometime between 8000 and 6000 years ago when the Crags were presumably used as a winter site. Excavation also uncovered large quantities of animal remains including further evidence for the presence of hippopotamus and narrow-nosed rhinoceros at Creswell Crags, living in the area between 130,000 and 110,000 years ago. Lists also record the presence of bears, hyaenas, foxes and bison in the Creswell Gorge at this time. In 2003, research into rock art in Mother Grundy's Parlour did find very small traces of engraved lines within the passage leading from the cave chamber. (22) Birmingham Muesum (Birmingham City Museum) holds a number of artefacts from Creswell Crags. A full index is available. (23) Scheduled. (26) Small, shallow cave on the north face. Some unorganised excavation started in the 1870s although the first formal excavations were in 1876 by Boyd Dawkins and Mello. Later excavations include Armstrong (1924), McBurney (1959), Campbell (1969) and Collcutt (1975). The site had an important series of Ipswichian deposits at the rear of the cave. Most of the human occupation occurred outside the cave in the platform area and included Early Upper Palaeolithic, Later Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic levels. The platform area was reconstructed following Armstrong's excavations. (27) Cave art MGP1. One engraved motif, the first to be discovered on 14 April 2003. Located around 15m from the entrance, it is just inside the inner chamber, on the left as one enters. It is circa 12cm wide and 8cm high, and about 75cm above the rock ledge at the base of this wall. In 2003, with bad lighting, only the left end of the figure had been seen, and thought it could be a small horse-head facing left. Subsequently it proved to be a larger and more complex figure, shaped something like a down-turned banana or boomerang. It cannot be proved to be Palaeolithic, but this is highly likely. (28) One small decorated panel. This gallery was probably filled with sediments, deposited after the execution of the art, which were cleared out during the 1969 excavations. The panel comprises a fine-line engraving, with a v-shaped section, whose width and depth do not exceed 1mm. At first it was thought to be a small horse head, facing left, however there are now reservations on the zoological attribution, given the panels poor lighting conditions. A second visit in June 2003 with suitable equipment saw that it is a sign formed by two planes which converge at the top to form and angle. This ideomorph, possibly a tectiform, resembles a boomerang, but the right-hand part is not closed, and is slightly wider than the left, which, in its central inner zone, contains two vertical, parallel lines. (29) Mother Grundy's Parlour is situated on the northern side of the Creswell ravine at is eastern extremity. It was partially excavated by Boyd Dawkins and Mello between 1874-9 and completely dug out in or about 1887 by Laing, whose exploration result is not known. Human remains were found in the cave-earth but in a part disturbed by repeated digging and by burrowing animals. One skull, however, lay apart from the others in a small recess, where Boyd Dawkins, noted the cave-earth showed no signs of disturbance. (30) Additional sources. (5, 8-9, 14, 19-21, 24-25)

Sources/Archives (30)

  • <1> Monograph: Jenkinson, R. 1984. Creswell Crags: Late Pleistocene Sites in the East Midlands, British Archaeological Reports 122.
  • <2> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1944. 1944.
  • <3> Article in serial: Manchester Geological Society. 1877. More Recent Discoveries in the Creswell Caves, 1877.
  • <4> Article in serial: Armstrong, A. 1924. Excavations at Mother Grundy's Parlour Creswell Crags, 1924. Volume 55. 146-78.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Campbell, J. 1977. The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Collcutt, S (University of Edinburgh). The Stratigraphy of Creswell Crags.
  • <7> Monograph: McBurney, C. 1959. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, report of the first season's fieldwork on British Upper Palaeolithic cave deposits.
  • <8> Article in serial: Armstrong, A. 1925. 'The Engravings from Mother Grundy's Parlour', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. p27.
  • <9> Article in serial: Jackson, J. 1967. Journal of the British Speleological Association (Including 'Cave Science'), Volume 6, No. 41.
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: East Midlands Committee of Field Archaeologists. 1959. East Midlands Archaeological Bulletin, Volume 2, 1959.
  • <11> Article in serial: Campbell, J. 1969. 'Excavations at Creswell Crags, preliminary report', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Campbell, J. 1969. Excavations at Creswell Crags, preliminary report.
  • <13> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p114.
  • <14> Bibliographic reference: Wymer, J (Council for British Archaeology). 1977. Gazetteer of Palaeolithic sites in Britain.
  • <15> Index: British Museum. British Museum artefact index from Creswell Crags.
  • <16> Index: Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology. Artefacts from Creswell Crags held in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.
  • <17> Correspondence: Bassetlaw Museum. 2015. Correspondence regarding archaeological material previously held in 'Worksop Museum' (Bassetlaw Museum), April 17th, 2015. Email.
  • <18> Digital data: Pitt Rivers Museum. Creswell Crags Collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.
  • <19> Bibliographic reference: Bolton Museum. Bolton Museum artefact from Creswell Crags.
  • <20> Artifact: Derby Museum. Derby Museum artefact from Creswell Crags.
  • <21> Artifact: Manchester Museum. Manchester Museum artefact from Creswell Crags.
  • <22> Bibliographic reference: Creswell Heritage Trust. Creswell Crags, a guide to the caves and Ice Age remains.
  • <23> Index: Birmingham City Museum. Birmingham City Museum artefact index from Creswell Crags.
  • <24> Bibliographic reference: Creswell Heritage Trust. Creswell Crags artefact in Creswell Crags Visitor Centre.
  • <25> Bibliographic reference: Roe, D (Council for British Archaeology). 1968. Gazetteer of Lower and Middle Upper Palaeolithic Sites.
  • <26> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1988. Scheduling Notification: Palaeolithic and Later Prehistoric Sites at Creswell Gorge…... 275. Cat. No. 275.
  • <27> Bibliographic reference: Jenkinson, R. 1978. The archaeological caves and rock shelters in the Creswell Crags area, Creswell Crags Visitor Centre research report No. 1.
  • <28> Bibliographic reference: Bahn, P & Pettitt, P (University of Sheffield). 2009. Britain's Oldest Art, the Ice Age cave art of Creswell Crags.
  • <29> Bibliographic reference: Pettitt, P, Bahn, P & Ripoll, S (University of Sheffield). 2007. Paleolithic cave art at Creswell Crags in European context.
  • <30> Bibliographic reference: Garrod, D. 1926. The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain.



Grid reference Centred SK 5357 7426 (22m by 9m) (Centre)

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Record last edited

Jun 12 2017 4:43PM

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