To many people the historic city of Nottingham is famous as the home of the legendary Robin Hood. However it’s also famously home to a myriad of underground tunnels and caves, waiting to be explored.

With more man-made caves than anywhere else in the country, Nottingham is a great place to visit for an underground adventure.

Caves In Nottingham

A Welsh monk writing in 868CE referred to Nottingham as ‘Tigguo Cobauc’ – the place of caves.

The city sits on a rock known as Sherwood Sandstone. The sandstone is soft enough to cut in to by hand, and Nottingham residents have used it to their advantage.

Almost 500 man-made caves have been cut into the sandstone beneath Nottingham. Over the years they have been used for everything from storage cellars, dungeons and air raid shelters to tunnels. For hundreds of years Nottingham caves were even used as homes by locals, until a Parliamentary Act in 1845 banned such practices.

City of Caves

One of Nottingham’s main family friendly tourist attractions is located beneath the city’s Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. City Of Caves at Nottingham allows visitors to explore a network of fascinating caves.

The cave network has Ancient Monument Protection, and is still being explored by archaeologists. City of Caves includes an ‘Enchanted Well’, a recreated Medieval Tannery, an Anderson Shelter from World War II, and the slums of Drury hill.

An audio tour can be taken around the caves, allowing visitors a relaxed and personal exploration of the underground wonders. On the weekends and at holidays, visitors to City of Caves can take an actor led tour with the archaeologist characters Anne and Archie. The tours take visitors through the history and building of the atmospheric caves, giving them a glimpse into life in the past.

In 2014, Nottingham City of Caves will hold special ‘Spirits of the Caves’ tours led by a professional medium. On selected Saturday evenings professional medium Maria Davey will guide groups through the ancient caverns and tunnels with the aim of discovering underground spirits. She will also share the history of paranormal activity that has been reported at the City of Caves over the years. The first ‘Spirits of the Caves’ tour takes place on Saturday 01 February 2014, and from then is normally on every two weeks. Booking for these spooky and stimulating tours is essential.

Our Park Inn by Radisson Nottingham hotel is a great place to relax after a day exploring the fascinating City of Caves in Nottingham.

Underground in Nottingham

Visitors to Nottingham can visit other eerie underground caves in the area.

One of the most famous landmarks in the Nottingham skyline is the Castle, an interesting place to learn more about the city’s rich history. Beneath Nottingham Castle lies a maze of caves and tunnels that can be explored by visitors. Some of the tunnels have featured in the legends of Robin Hood, who was said to use them to escape the Sherriff of Nottingham. Tours of Nottingham Castle caves take in a dungeon, wine cellar, secret passageways and the legendary Mortimer’s Hole.

Mortimer’s Hole is named for Mortimer the Earl of March, lover of Queen Isabella. Isabella’s son King Edward III believed Mortimer (and his mother) to be responsible for his father’s death. On 19 October 1330, Edward led loyal supporters through secret tunnels carved in to the sandstone, and caught Mortimer in a castle chamber. Mortimer was executed for treason against the King, and the cave known as Mortimer’s Hole is said to be haunted by Queen Isabella.

Nottingham’s Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, otherwise known as “the oldest Inn in England” is home to atmospheric cellar caves. Tours of the cave take in part of the Castle Gaol and an old cockfighting pit, and run twice daily from Monday to Thursday. England’s oldest inn is a great place to stop after exploring the caves to enjoy a meal and ale.

Another traditional English pub in Nottingham which features a cave is the Hand & Heart. Here, visitors can dine in a sandstone cave which was used in the past for storage. The pub is a great place to eat a Sunday roast in a unique setting.

The Nottingham Caves Survey aims to document all the known Nottingham caves, and encourages the city’s residents to find and register any caves they find. A Cave Map of Nottingham gives more information on caves which can be visited with ease, are best for experts only, or have been lost over time.

Have you ever visited a cave?