Tel: 01623 707017
We've Got Mansfield, Ashfield & Sherwood Covered


Creswell Crags celebrates 20 years since discovery of its Ice Age Rock Art 

Posted onPosted on 10th Apr

Twenty years have passed since the discovery of the world famous Ice Age rock art at Creswell Crags. At the time it was realised to be Britain’s oldest rock art and a hugely significant part of the country’s prehistory.

To celebrate the art of our ancestors, Creswell Crags is hosting a range of rock art inspired events for everyone to take part in; whether you’re keen to know more about the art or simply want something arty-but-different to do with the family.

On 14th April 2003, Paul Bahn, alongside Sergio Ripoll and Paul Pettitt, found the Ice Age rock art inside Church Hole Cave.  It was the first discovery of Ice Age art in Britain and a hugely important moment for our understanding of human habitation during the Palaeolithic period.

As a site of human habitation for over 40,000 years, Creswell Crags was the chosen starting place for the search for Ice Age rock art.  It was also here where the only portable art of the British Ice Age had been found. The famous horse-head engraving on a rib bone was found in 1876 – the earliest find of Ice Age art in Britain. The second piece was discovered in 1928, this time a human figure on a woolly rhino rib bone.

The investigation at Creswell Crags led to the discovery of the majority of engravings inside Church Hole Cave, where a total of 23 definite markings were found, including the engravings of a bison, stag, ibis, and depictions of the female form. The engravings were dated to more than 12,000 years-old.

On Friday, 14th  April 2023, Paul Bahn will be back at Creswell Crags to relive the very moment the team discovered the art.  Paul will take visitors on a ‘Tour of Church Hole Cave’ and tell the story of the many kinds of luck and skill involved in the quest, and of the significance of what was revealed on the walls.

Visitors are invited to a series of talks on Rock Art and Archaeology at Creswell Crags and Beyond on Saturday, 15th April.  Expert speakers will present an engaging series of talks about the importance of the rock art, our understanding of the Ice Age and new research into archaeology at Creswell Crags.  There is also a family talk about what children did in the Ice Age.

Over the weekend of 15th and 16th April the Church Hole Cave Open Days will invite visitors to take a look inside to see some of the most striking engravings, all for free.  There will also be fun archaeology based activities in the meadow for families to take part in on the Saturday.

During the Easter school holidays all the family events have a Rock Art theme, including this year’s Easter Egg Trail.  Running throughout April, children can complete a Easter Rock Art Scavenger Hunt and claim their chocolate egg as a prize!

On weekdays from Monday 3rd to Friday 14th April, families can have a go to at making their own Ice Age rock art and Stone Age bone art.

 new exhibition on Creswell Crags’ Rock Art: Past and Recent Research about the discovery and new investigations into the rock art is also opening at the beginning of April.

Paul Baker, director at Creswell Crags: ‘The discovery of the Rock Art at Creswell Crags 20 years ago changed the understanding of our caves and of the Ice Age in Britain. The significance of the findings are still being realised, and we wanted to celebrate the importance of the discovery with a series of celebration events at Creswell Crags this April.

“We can’t wait to invite visitors to learn more about the art of our ancestors and be inspired by their creativity and ingenuity.’

For more information about all the Art of our Ancestors events at Creswell Crags visit