City Of Caves at Nottingham is accessed at the upper mall level of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, close to the Broadmarsh and Fletcher Gate car parks, and five minutes from Nottingham Train Station. City Of Caves is a subterranean family attraction that is part of a complex of over 500 caves dating back to the Dark Ages, the last of which were in use until as late as the 1940`s. Indeed, the city of Nottingham has more man-made caves than anywhere else in Britain, and the cave network has Ancient Monument Protection.
The area was originally known as Tiggua Cobaucc, meaning ‘Place of Caves’, and the first extant reference to Tiggua Cobaucc was in The Life Of King Alfred, by Welsh monk and historian, Asser, the Bishop of Sherborne, who visited Nottingham around 900 AD. These ancient caves were likely used for housing as early as the 11th century, and troglodytes were certainly recorded in the 17th century. Many were inhabited until 1845, when the St. Mary’s Enclosure Act banned the rental of cellars and caves as homes for the poor, though the practice doubtless continued underground!
The family attraction that is now the City Of Caves was made possible thanks to the soft Sherwood Sandstone beneath Nottingham that allowed hand-carved cellars to be excavated and used as store rooms, factories, pub cellars, dwellings and even air raid shelters. Most of the caves remain in private hands, and some were destroyed over time by various city developments. This journey back in time begins with a descent into the dark, dank Brythonic and Anglo-Saxon tunnels, leading to original medieval wells and cesspits.
The City Of Caves was almost lost for ever when the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre was built in the late 1960s. A family day out – or down, for that matter – also takes in guidance from an on-site archaeologist character, and in fact archaeologists are still investigating the maze of tunnels to see where they lead and discover new vistas within our family attraction.
Schools are catered for with an audio tour and guided visits, while groups can book the City Of Caves in the evening for after dark events!