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The cliffs in the ravine have several caves. The caves were occupied during the last ice age, between around 43,000 and 10,000 years ago. They have the northernmost cave art in Europe. The evidence of occupation is found in the rich series of sediments that accumulated over many thousands of years. It is internationally unique in showing how prehistoric people lived at the extreme northernmost limits of their territory in the later Pleistocene Ice Age.
The caves have layers with flint tools from the Mousterian, and later cultures. They were seasonally occupied by nomadic groups of people during the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods. Evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman and post-medieval activity has also been found there. There is evidence of Neanderthal occupation 50,000–60,000 years ago, a brief Gravettian occupation around 32,000 years ago and use of all the main caves during the Magdalenian around 14,000 years ago. The site is open to the public and has a visitor centre with a small museum of objects.
In 2006–07, the B6042 road was re-routed from its path through the gorge, by approximately 150 metres (160 yd) to the north, to minimise traffic impact on the site.
- Note: Other images of the caves can be got by going to the details behind the image at Commons: click the image as a first step, then explore.
The most occupied caves were:
- Mother Grundy's Parlour, which had many flint tools and split bones. It was occupied until Mesolithic times, c. 16,000 years ago.
- Robin Hood's Cave. where a bone engraved with a horse's head was found. Its occupants hunted and trapped woolly rhinoceros and Arctic hare.
- The Pin Hole. Here a human figure engraved on bone was found in the 1920s. It is called the Pinhole Cave Man. There is also an ivory pin with etched lines.
- Church Hole has more than 80 engravings on its walls and was occupied off and on until Roman times.
- "Creswell Crags". UNESCO. 27 January 2012. https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5671/. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- "Palaeolithic art and archaeology of Creswell Crags, UK". Durham University. https://www.dur.ac.uk/archaeology/research/projects/?mode=project&id=639. Retrieved 22 August 2013. The dates given in the source are 28,000 14C years ago for the Gravettian and 12,500 to 12,200 14C years ago for the Magdalenian. The 14C years have been adjusted to give calendar ('real') years. "The Radiocarbon age scale vs the 'real' (calibrated) years age scale.". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nerc14C.html. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- "Creswell Crags SSSI". Natural England. https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteDetail.aspx?SiteCode=S1003950. Retrieved 14 August 2017.