Nottingham has over 500 known caves, with more being discovered every year. No other location in the UK has as many of these man made caves as we do! So much so that it was first known as the 'Place of Caves'. It turns out the whole city is built on them. They run deep underground and in the cliff side of Nottingham Castle. Many of them are linked with a network running under the whole city.
In the 11th century they were used as some of the first housing in the area and people continued to live in them up to the mid to late 1800s. Other uses for them included store rooms, a chapel, air raid shelters, slums, a tannery, work/factory rooms, a prison, storing live fish, brewing and storing beer, pub cellars, wells, cesspits and other daily life spaces most of us would now have above ground. In the present day Nottingham residents are using them as basements, bike stores, play areas and store rooms for their businesses, not much unlike what was happening here a thousand years ago!
The most famous tale of the caves is from 1330 when King Edward III went through a secret tunnel that led directly into Nottingham Castle. The castle was the residence of nobleman Roger de Mortimer who had been ruling England unlawfully and had been supposedly involved in the killing of Edward III's father. Edward III took Mortimer as a prisoner and took back his right to rule as king. The tunnel is known as Mortimer's Hole.
To go in the caves and see their history you can visit the City of Caves attraction (check out their website here). You can also experience the caves by going for a meal at the Heart in Hand pub on Derby Road, or book a cellar tour at Ye Olde Trip. You may even stumble upon one randomly on your travels!