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17 July 2004
More cave art discovered at Creswell Crags

A team of researchers led by the University of Sheffield and supported by English Heritage have found eighty 13,000-year-old carvings in limestone rock of Church Hole Cave, at Creswell Crags in Nottinghamshire (England). The discovery comes a year after the initial discovery of 12 engraved figures, which were trumpeted as the earliest examples of prehistoric cave art in Britain.
     The carvings, which appear on the ceiling of the cave, represent animal figures, including bison, deer, bears, plus two or three species of bird; including one unusual bird head with a long, curved bill. Dr Paul Pettitt, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, led the research. He explains, "This find represents the most richly carved ceiling in the whole of cave art and shows a number of new themes and techniques. It also demonstrates that cave art is spread across a much wider geographical area than we originally thought."
     Scientist Dr Sergio Ripoll, from Spain's Open University, said: "The good natural light both in April and June of this year, and the realisation that the Ice Age artists who were visiting the cave were actually modifying the natural shapes in the limestone, has enabled us to see many new animal figures."
     Although older cave art in France and Spain is regarded as more sophisticated, the Creswell images are deemed to be significant because of their northerly position. They are the only examples of Palaeolithic cave art in the UK, and the artists who made them would have witnessed a British landscape still being shaped by glaciers.
     According to Dr Nigel Mills, Manager of Creswell Heritage Trust, the discovery may be the much needed boost the area needs as well as an opportunity to update the museum and visitor centre facilities. "A 4 million bid has recently been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve facilities for public display and access at Creswell Crags and work will be starting shortly to relocate the B6042 road away from the site," he said. Creswell Crags is hoping that Church Hole will be open to the public in the near future. In the meantime there is a small display on show in the museum/visitor centre.

Sources: BBC News, Innovations Report (13 july 2004), Article by Corinne Field for 24 Hour Museum (14 July 2004)

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