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Archaeo News 

3 August 2003
Projects to preserve the cave pictures at Creswell Rags

The discovery of 12,000-year-old artwork on the walls of a North Derbyshire (England) cave could spur on a bid for World Heritage Site status.
     The find at Creswell Crags is believed to give the clearest evidence yet of how far north man had travelled during the ice ages, as it shows the world's most northerly Palaeolithic cave paintings. But while archaeologists are still in raptures over the images, mostly depicting animals, trust chiefs running the site believe it could spell great things for the area. Nigel Mills, of Creswell Heritage Trust, said the paintings "thought to be Britain's first ever cave pictures' could mean the resurrection of an ambitious scheme to gain World Heritage Site status. He said: "Creswell Crags is a hugely important site. The quality and the quantity of archeological evidence which has come from the site are second to none. At the time when these paintings were made the crags would have been at the very edge of the ice sheet which covered much of the North of England. The paintings are evidence that the crags were the most northerly place visited by ice age man. For these reasons the crags are unique places and something that is so unique could form the basis of a bid to be a World Heritage Site. In 1996, a bid was put forward but was rejected. In the light of recent events it may now be appropriate to reconsider that application."
     The Creswell Crags site has come a long way in the intervening years when it was blighted by the nearby location of a sewage works and a busy road cutting through the gorge. Major progress has already been made on moving the sewage works and diverting a section of the B6042 road. The trust, set up in 1990 to safeguard the site, is leading a 14m scheme to regenerate the former coalfield area. Part of the scheme will see the construction of a 4.5m museum and visitor centre which it is hoped will secure the long-term future of the site.
     In the meantime, Derbyshire County Council has awarded 10,000 to help Creswell Heritage Trust continue its work in the Creswell Crags area. Cllr Bob Janes, county community services chief, said: "Creswell Heritage Trust is a small charitable organisation but the work it does and amount of grant aid it attracts to this part of the county is invaluable. We are delighted to support its efforts to protect what is a site of tremendous historical importance".

Sources: Yorkshire Post Today (27 July 2003), Chesterfield Today (31 July 2003)

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