Nottingham Caves Survey

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The Nottingham Caves Survey is a research project being conducted by Trent and Peak Archaeology, at the University of Nottingham. Spearheaded by Dr David Walker with Julia Clarke, with documentary research undertaken by Scott Lomax, the aim of the non-profit project is to scan every accessible cave from the 700+ man-made sandstone caves that are known to be present in the city of Nottingham. The project is being funded primarily by both the Greater Nottingham Partnership, who have an interest in utilising the caves for increasing tourism and helping grow the local economy, and English Heritage, who are motivated by an interest in preserving the remaining heritage of Nottingham.

The project built upon the data collected in the 1980s as part of the British Geological Survey (BGS), where all the known caves of Nottingham were recorded into the BGS register, and Nottingham City Council's Urban Archaeological Database (UAD). The Nottingham Caves Survey team visited many of the caves listed in the BGS register, asked permission from the owner to view the cave, and if the conditions were suitable, scanned the cave structure using a 3D laser scanner. The laser scanner builds up a 'point cloud' by collecting billions of survey points, which make up the black and white 3D images. Fish-eye photographs are taken from exactly the same position on the tripod around 360 degrees. The 'point cloud' can be merged with the photographs and manipulated to make plans, animations and fly-through videos, available on the project website.

The Nottingham Caves Survey recorded data from an eclectic range of cave systems, from the famous Mortimer's Hole and King David's Dungeon at the Nottingham Ducal Mansion, the cave complexes of the renowned Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Ye Olde Salutation Inn and The Bell Inn - claimed to be three of the oldest inns in England - to the cave cellars of houses dotted around the city, as each are considered to have a unique story to tell. The project commenced in 2010, with the surveying completed in 2012. In total 75 caves were surveyed.

The project has received widespread press, due to the possible implications on well known Nottingham lore like that of the famous legend of Robin Hood, by such varied media outlets as ThisIsNottingham,[1] BBC News,[2] Science Daily[3] and the New York Times.[4] The project has also received positive attention for the environmental policies of the surveying team, as all the equipment is transported between sites in trailers by bicycles.


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