Nottingham's ancient caves planned to regenerate city

View of the caves inside the sandstone underneath the Broadmarsh shopping centre. Credit: PA Images

Archaeologists and historians from the University of Nottingham have launched a new project to bring the city’s hidden history to life.

The City of Caves project is set to make Nottingham’s famous underground caves a signature feature of the new Broadmarsh development to increase tourism in the area.

It will bring together archaeologists and experts in urban history and landscape, to work with partners leading the multi-million-pound redevelopment of the 20-acre Broadmarsh area.

A team of researchers will carry out extensive work on historical records and maps, archaeological data, photographic archives, and existing 3D laser scans of the caves which could be used in a new immersive VR caves experience.

They will also identify gaps in historical and geographical knowledge of the area that need to be filled.

View of the caves inside the sandstone underneath the Broadmarsh shopping centre. Credit: PA

The city’s extensive network of manmade caves dates back 1000 years.

These were carved into the soft sandstone underground and used as dwellings, workplaces, and storage spaces for many centuries.

Dr Chris King, from the university’s department of Classics and Archaeology, said: “We’re very excited to start this project and hope our input in the regeneration will put Nottingham firmly on the map as a centre of historical interest like York or Chester.

The caves will be a major focus of our work as we will be advising the developers on new ways to present the Broad Marsh’s history to residents and visitors.

“We also want to work with community groups and societies, such as the Nottingham Historical and Archaeological Society, Nottingham Civic Society and The Thoroton Society, to map local knowledge of the caves and the city’s street system before the 1970s Broadmarsh centre was built.

At the moment, the knowledge and archive resources are scattered, and we want to bring it all together to embed this fascinating aspect of the city into the regenerated area.”

The City of Caves project is due to submit its findings in January 2023.