Bolsover Mine

One day in Bolsover in the county of Derbyshire in the 1820’s, two pitmen were busy sinking an exploratory coalmining shaft into a side of a hill, when suddenly the earth gave way, revealing a yawning gap. It was the entrance to a cave.

After they had tentatively climbed down into this new discovery, amidst the dust and loose rocks, their lanterns began to reveal what appeared to be old swords, bows and iron pots with the wood ash and half-charred logs from an old fireplace. Against a wall was a rack of bows and belts, broadswords and quivers full of arrows. As the orangey light from their lanterns moved around and the dust began to settle, their eyes suddenly came upon the gruesome sight of the remains of a skeleton wrapped in an old woollen habit, one hand holding a crucifix, the other a chisel, propped up against the cave wall. Above its head were roughly scratched a long list of names on the cavern walls. At the top it said, these died that we might live. Requiescant in pace. Below it painfully said, I was the last, Michael Tuck.

After the two miners had climbed out and nervously clambered to the top, there came a great rock fall and the cave promptly collapsed under hundreds of tons of rock, completely burying the new shaft and all their equipment. The cave has never been located since. When the pitmen described to the local people from Bolsover village what they had witnessed, they laughed and dismissed the miners’ story as pure fantasy.

This incident is reported in the book, Robin Hood: His Life and Legend (1979) by Lord Bernard Miles. Lord Miles is a distinguished actor, writer and founder of the Mermaid Theatre in London.

No comments: