Creswell Crags Museum and Prehistoric Gorge is run by Creswell Heritage Trust, a small, independent charity. We have had no external funding since early 2020 and are reliant on visitor income, ticket sales, school trips, cafe purchases, and donations to continue our work maintaining, conserving and sharing the heritage of our unique and beautiful site, and providing facilities to enhance visits for the public. As one of the most important prehistoric sites in the UK, with a nationally important collection and cave art, but also as a valued local 'outdoor site, we are working hard to safeguard Creswell Crags for the future in these unprecedented times.
In line with the latest government advice on social distancing and public places to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we took the difficult decision to close to the public and postpone our special events programme. It is important to put visitor and staff safety first at this time. However, the impact of this closure is having on our funding is very serious, with implications for our future and the future care of the site. To be blunt: without an income, we are now under threat of imminent closure. The loss of Creswell Crags would not just be a tragedy for the dedicated staff and volunteers. The site is of international significance for its Prehistoric heritage. It is the site of the only verified Ice Age cave art in the UK; it has more evidence of Neanderthal in-habitation than nearly anywhere else in the UK; it is the site where the oldest coloured drawing in Britain was found inscribed onto a bone; its Robin Hood cave has more early modern Witch Marks than anywhere else in the UK. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the flora and fauna which thrive in this Magnesian limestone landscape, it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is included on the UK Governments tentative list for submission for UNESCO World Heritage Site Inscription.
Creswell Crags is not part of a larger organisation, such as the National Trust or a local council. Although it is located on the Welbeck Estate, it is a tenant of the Estate and pays rent. There is no safety net, should income be suspended for an extended amount of time. The staff team including the management team, education facilitators, ranger, café staff, curator and tour guides comprises 38 people and all are still working, seeking ways to remain sustainable. It is already a small team for such a popular visitor attraction and large outdoor site.
At this time, there is only enough funding to see the organisation through to the end of April. Government support will help with staff wages, but without income there will be nothing to cover running and security costs of a large outdoor site, or to invest in the necessary programming and development needed to overcome the 2020 funding challenge.
The gorge and lakeside paths remain open for walks, but this is free to access via a public bridleway and does not generate income. The future remains uncertain for this hidden gem of the local area.
For more information on our work and how your donation will help to support us through this difficult time please visit our website at https://www.creswell-crags.org.uk/ and follow us on social media.