'Witch marks' scoops Creswell Crags top heritage award

Ed Waters one of the first people to notice the witch marks.Ed Waters one of the first people to notice the witch marks.
Ed Waters one of the first people to notice the witch marks.
Creswell Craggs has been given a special heritage award after rare ‘witch marks’ were discovered at the site.

The museum and prehistoric gorge received a special judges’ award in the Regional Heritage Awards for ‘taking an enterprising approach to the discovery of the witch marks’.

The discovery was the site ‘go global’– and enjoy its ‘best February half-term yet’ as thousands descended for sell-out tours of the find.

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The collection of 18th century ‘apotropaic’ marks, which were previously dismissed as graffiti, were discovered in the Crags’ caves in February and are thought to be the largest assemblage of witch marks in the UK.

The markings.The markings.
The markings.

Superstitious residents living in post-medieval Creswell are believed to have etched the frenzy of letters, numbers and patterns on the cave walls to protect against witches and curses.

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Speaking at the time, Paul Baker, director of Creswell Crags, said that interest in the discovery ‘exceeded all expectations’.

He said: “On the day the news was released our team were busy fielding phone enquiries and from around the world.

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“The day was regularly interspersed by cries of astonishment as we were contacted by major international broadcasters and publishers or discovered coverage from the furthest points around the globe.

“The story has been reported on every continent and has been translated into many languages. We are still reeling with excitement.”

Following the discovery, economy has been boosted for the Creswell Heritage Trust, resulting in the best February half-term on record.

Other winners included the National Justice Museum , Mansfield Museum and Buxton Museum.

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Creswell Heritage Trust was also highly commended in the ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ category, for its Instagram video series, The Collection.

There were a record number of 83 entries from 48 different organisations at this year’s awards.

A spokesman said: “The competition was fierce and the judging team had some difficult decisions to make.

“The breadth and quality of the entries, and the range of organisations that had entered, really demonstrated how much extraordinary and excellent work is taking place in heritage organisations throughout the East Midlands."