Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to situate the unique discoveries of cave art at the Creswell Crags caves in the context of what is known of the cave archaeology and palaeontology of the caves of the southern Magnesian Limestone outcrop. The long history of archaeological research at Creswell Crags and the spectacular discoveries that continue to be made in the Creswell caves have tended to overshadow the widespread though less prominent distribution of cave archaeological sites along the limestone outcrop to the north and south ofCreswell, a region known as the Creswell Crags Limestone Heritage Area (Mills 2001). Recent audits of the archaeology of the region have drawn attention to the large number of cave sites within the Limestone Heritage Area as well as the considerable potential that these sites have for further research into the history of Ice Age people and their environments (Mills 2001; Davies etal. 2004). While the focus of this chapter is on the Pleistocene deposits and Palaeolithic artefacts that have been preserved in the region's caves, fissures, and rock shelters, these sites were used throughout prehistory by humans and animals and they contain much important cultural and environmental evidence for these later time periods after the end of the last Ice Age.

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