Video: See the caves below a college building site
A network of caves left untouched for over 120 years and previously unknown to historians have been discovered under a college building site.
While excavating land for Nottingham Trent University and Confetti’s new media hub in the city centre, builders uncovered a hole as they attempted to find a sandstone bed under the site.
After more digging, they found a network of Georgian and Victorian foundations with some artefacts perfectly preserved as well as medieval trenches.
Marc Preite, project manager for Nottingham Trent University said: “We mapped out, following a video survey, that there was a staircase leading down to that cave.
“That then led to more excavation to try and find out where that staircase came up, and last week we were lucky enough to find an entrance to that staircase and we’ve got a fully formed entrance into that cave.”
While attempting to make a safe way to get to the cave, archaeologists discovered another two holes, followed by a further hole while Notts Tonight was at the site.
It’s now hoped that the caves can be cleared out and archaeologists will be able to access them later this week.
Before discovering the caves, time had been put aside after Nottingham City’s archaeologist Scott Lomax said there could be a chance of finding archaeological material near to the site.
Marc said: “We always planned to do what’s called cave probing, so at a certain level we get a rig in to test to see whether there are any caves.
“We can say fortunately or unfortunately enough, we’ve managed to find that without having to do that exercise.
“And so it has come as a surprise certainly, finding the second one this morning is an even more surprise it’s kind of gone from being great to a little bit ‘okay right, we’ve got a bit of a program to do before we start building on may 8th’.”
The archaeologists discovered kilns used for making brick or glass and have excavated one to rebuild somewhere else.
Archaeologists believe the cave may have a connection to the pub that used to be on the site, or could have been linked to cock fighting.
“I think it’s going to be quite significant,” said Paul Flintoft, the project manager at Trent & Peak Archaeology.
“We know there are about 700 caves in Nottingham and we’ve done surveys of a lot of them, but very few have been excavated using modern archaeological methods and techniques.
“I think for understanding this part of Nottingham city, it’s going to be incredibly valuable.”
The caves, which are near the boundary of the medieval town and St John’s Hospital, may offer clues to the history of the area.
“We don’t really know very much about what’s gone on just outside the medieval town and we’re only a few metres outside the medieval town, but this excavation has found an abundance of material and it’s very exciting,” Paul added.
“As you can see there’s a lot of collapse that’s gone into the caves and to get the next level of information to inform us about what to do next we need to get rid of some of the spoil, so they’re going to be digging.
“We’ve learned so much and every day we’re finding more.”
The caves will be excavated and 3D mapped as part of a Trent & Peak archaeological survey, before being filled in for the new media hub.