Having studied the prehistory of Britain we thought another field trip was in order. Since Creswell Crags is one of the most important Ice Age sites in Europe it seemed a good candidate 🙂
We set off rather later than planned, and without J as he had decided to stay at home and work (hmmm) but at least that meant the fog had a chance to clear first. The journey took a couple of hours, following L and Kfish’s directions (worked out yesterday as a Geography exercise 😉 ) but with a slight rethink at the end when it became clear that their route took us a fair distance further than necessary.
After such a long time sitting the first priority was stretching legs, so we set off round the gorge to peer into all the caves. Sadly the tours only run at weekends or as prebooked visits (currently all booked for several months ahead) so we had to content ourselves with the outside and easily accessible parts, but it was still quite stunning. We all enjoyed climbing up the cliff face to see what view the cave people might have had and imagining how we might live in one of the caves. The children all decided that Mother Grundy’s Parlour was the most promising to live in, even though Pin Hole is the one where most art has been found and Robin Hood the most visited. We also attempted to feed the ducks (having been given a couple of bags of duck food when we arrived) but they were clearly well-fed and contented so ignored us all morning and only came to eat when we returned from our walk and tried again.
As we were heading out we saw a school party in the outdoor classroom learning to throw sticks at targets, so we talked a little about how people might have hunted. Another party was on their way to a cave visit, with hard hats and head torches; we were lucky enough to arrive at the cave they were visiting just as they left, so had a chance for a good peek in 😉
On the way back we stopped at the themed playground so we could all enjoy climbing on a mammoth, riding on a rhino, sitting on horses and reindeer, hiding in a house made of tusks and exploring the obstacle course. Time was rushing by, however, so we went back to the centre, where there were finds to excavate and microscopes to examine and identify finds. Upstairs the queue to buy tickets for the permanent exhibition was very long, thanks to a school party coming out of the shop to make purchases (same desk) so we ducked into the free temporary exhibition first, where we found the actual bone discovered in Pin Hole cave and decorated with the rather grotesque and cartoonesque figure of a man. The exhibit was all about different readings of what the picture might be and might mean: perhaps a cartoon drawn to give an impression of movement, an overblown exaggerated drawing, a figurative depiction, a man wearing a ceremonial mask or even a figure half-man, half-creature. We can only speculate, and the exhibition encouraged us to do just that.
Then we wandered round the permanent exhibitions and learned more about the crags, the finds there and how they have fed into knowledge of the Ice Ages and the fauna and flora of the area then. Each child chose an item to write about later in the week. The videos were very good, including one showing the landscape as it might have been in different eras. It was odd to think that Derbyshire was once so warm that rhino and hyenas lived there, and then so cold that the whole area was deeply frozen and people fled back across the ice to mainland Europe or survived huddled in caves for warmth. The children’s favourite exhibit was a computer-aided depiction of various pieces of rock art where you could trace the lines of the picture and the important ones would be highlighted. This made it much easier to see which lines were deliberate and which incidental and allowed us to see why the pieces were considered to be so exciting.
We finished with a look round the shop and buying a postcard each for their project folders.
Despite a slow journey back we just made it in time for Afish to get to Brownies 🙂