Robin Hood's Dungeon

The dungeon believed to have housed Robin Hood when he was caught by the Sheriff of Nottingham is to be surveyed using a laser. It is part of a major project to explore every cave in Nottingham. Robin Hood is believed to have been held captive in an oubliette (underground dungeon) located at what is now the Galleries of Justice.

The Nottingham Caves Survey is being conducted by archaeologists based at the University of Nottingham.

The two year project, costing £250,000, has been funded by the Greater Nottingham Partnership, East Midlands Development Agency, English Heritage, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council.

Experts from Trent and Peak Archaeology will use a 3D laser scanner to produce a three dimensional record of more than 450 sandstone caves around Nottingham from which a virtual representation can be made.

David Knight, Head of Research at the Trent and Peak unit, said there will be no actual excavations just the use of the laser.

"The aim is to increase the tourist potential of these sites. The scanning will also make them visible 'virtually' which is good in terms of public access because a lot of them are health hazards.

"That's one of the problems with these caves - they're very impressive but access is fairly difficult. You can imagine the health and safety issues are quite significant."

The last major survey of Nottingham's caves was in the 1980s. The British Geological Survey (BGS) documented all known caves under the city.The Nottingham Caves Survey will update the information that made up the BGS's Register of Caves.

David Knight said: "Once we've done the whole lot we'll be in a position to rank them in order of significance and make a decision on which caves may or may not be opened."

The area which now makes up Nottingham city centre was once known as Tiggua Cobaucc, which means 'place of caves'.

The caves date back to the medieval period and possibly earlier. Over the years they have been used as dungeons, beer cellars, cess-pits, tanneries and air-raid shelters.

Today the most famous include the City of Caves in the Broadmarsh Centre, Mortimer's Hole beneath the Castle, the oubliette at the Galleries of Justice, and the cave-restaurant at the Hand and Heart pub on Derby Road and the cellar-caves at the Trip to Jerusalem pub.


Clement of the Glen said...

"Robin Hood's Dungeon"
The Nottingham Caves Survey

Albie said...

There was a news report on the dungeon last year on our local BBC evening news bulletin. I've not managed to get to the Galleries yet but hope to do so soon. Some of the items from the now defunct Tales of Robin Hood are housed in there too.

There are a number of caves that open periodically around the city. I had a tour around some near the Council House in Slab square (aka the Market Square) a few years ago. One of these was thought to date back to Saxon times. There still many that haven't been excavated or surveyed yet either. I remember a few years ago a lorry fell into a cave as the road collapsed after a hot spell of weather - no one was hurt and it was somewhere in the Council House area.

The reason why there are so many caves dating so far back was that the area where the town grew up was quite small. In medieval times they did not have the technology to build high so the dug into the rock to make these cellars. It was only in Victorian times that the city (rapidly) spread out from the central area where slab square is. The castle (only a couple hundred yards away) was considered to be separate from the town and neither came under each others rules and regulations.

Interesting about the 'old' name for Nottingham. Before it became 'Nottingham' it was known as 'Snotingaham' or 'Snotingshame' which was Danish for 'the home where snots people live'. Glad they dropped the 'S' .

On a note about Mortimer's Hole, this was believed to have been an entrance that was used by soldiers to enter the castle to arrest Roger Mortimer. However, the passage that bears this name is from a later period (Mortimer being around in the early 1300's and was a lover of the then Queen Mother). However, during recent work around the castle archaeologists believe they have 'broken' into the passage that was the original route into the castle basement used by the soldiers.

Clement of the Glen said...

Thanks for this fascinating information Albie. As always it is very interesting.

I have posted various articles about Nottingham and its history on this blog. The castle and the town around it has always facinated me.

It is amazing to think that Nottingham grew up as two seperate boroughs. One Norman and one Saxon with a boundary wall through the old market place. With the Norman settlers under the protection of the castle and the Saxons huddled around St Mary's Church. I believe the Domesday Book recorded between 600/800 over the two boroughs. Even today the Sheriff carries two maces to signify the two old boroughs.

Avalon said...

Oh my! How exciting! Wouldn't it be wonderful if they found some evidence that Robin was truly there? Then, we could laugh at everyone who has labeled him a tall tale.

Albie said...

Just to update your item here Clement, this web article appeared on the BBC Nottingham web site this morning....

Clement of the Glen said...

Thanks Albie, this project has generated a lot of interest both on here and on my Facebook page.

Craig said...

How interesting. As a history major focusing heavily on Medieval England, I definitely want to stop by the Nottingham area for a while whenever I finally get a chance to visit England again. All the obscure or nearly forgotten details of local histories (not just in England) always fascinate me.

Thanks for the post (and the comments are interesting reading as well)!

Albie said...

Hi Craig

If you are into medieval England then next you are over here then visit Nottingham and the surrounding area. The town of Newark (20 miles from Nottingham) has some good medieval buildings and history. Another 16 miles up the road from Newark is the city of Lincoln with its large cathedral, castle and other old buildings. In Lincoln Castle is one of the 6 original copies of the Magna Carta so is well worth a day or 2 to visit.

Both Newark & Lincoln are easy to reach if you make Nottingham your base by train, they are all on the same track.