As if you ever needed any proof that the luddite folk of ye olde Nottingham don’t like new fandangled technology or my denial that I am a cave dwelling suburban simpleton, Nottingham, or at least the area that is now Nottingham’s city centre, was once known as Tigguo Cabauc, City of Caves.  Today we’re having a visit to these Nottingham caves, after we’ve finished smashing up spinning frames of course – self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose.

Accessing the entrance through the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre and paying a steep fee of £7.50, there are over 500 man-made caves dug out from the soft sandstone that Nottingham sits on, but we only get to visit about four of them. The earliest reference to Tigguo Cabauc is 900AD in the book, The Life of King Alfred, he of burnt cakes fame, by the Welsh monk Asser.

This labyrinth of unconnected caves beneath the city streets, made of compacted sandstone, have all been dug out by hand with simple tools and used for cellars, tannery, houses and lodgings with pottery finds dating back to 1270.  Gives new meaning to the dark ages – not exactly much natural lighting down here.  They were inhabited till 1845 when the St Mary’s Enclosure Act banned the renting of cellars and caves as homes to the poor.  God only knows what the Tories would do with the extra bedroom tax from these cave lodgings.  Surprised they’ve not considered re-renting them.

Nottingham is also home to Britain’s only underground medieval tannery where animal skins were preserved and made useable as leather.  A King John’s groat found in the well of this cave suggest the Pillar Cave was originally cut before 1250 but had been filled in by rockfall in 1400. It was cleared in 1500 and used as a tannery where pits and clay lined vats were dug into the ground and animal skins sunk filled with dung and urine for the tanning process.  Just the place for a filthy peasant for when they haven’t got  a pot to piss in.   Clubbers in Nottingham recreate the same conditions every weekend against a bus shelter.

So unpleasant were the conditions around Broadmarsh in Nottingham, some may say they still are, that even the plague in 1665 stayed away.  Says a lot about Nottingham.

You can find out more about Tigguo Cobauc City of Caves here.

Related content:

Nottingham Castle and Mortimer’s Hole


Nick Cook. Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it.

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