Robin Hood's Prison? Sheriff's Dungeon Found At Nottingham Gaol

By Caroline Lewis | 17 October 2007
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a photograph of a prison cell with hammock

One of the above ground prison cells at the Galleries of Justice. © Galleries of Justice

New evidence has been discovered that the medieval caves under Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice museum were once used by the Sheriff of Nottingham as a prison.

The dark dungeon cells would have been in use when the Sheriff resided at the Shire Hall and County Gaol.

“It is an exciting discovery,” said Tim Desmond, Chief Executive at the Galleries. “The cave has always been known as the ‘Sheriff’s Dungeon’, but until now we have only been aware of its later use as a chapel for the Georgian prison.”

He pointed out that not much thought had ever been given to its previous use as a cell for the Sheriff’s Hall that was originally on the site, until research into a new exhibition on the Sheriff of Nottingham. Staff then uncovered evidence that the Sheriff did indeed imprison felons in the lower level caves under the building.

“So far we have discovered an ancient staircase that led down to the cells and we are also excavating an area next to the cave,” said Tim.

There is, of course, the tantalising possibility that the cave prison had a very famous resident, and there are plans to allow the public to have a look for themselves.

“This is the first time visitors to the Galleries of Justice will be able to see the dungeon where Robin Hood would have been imprisoned in medieval times and already we have received a lot of interest from the public, from as far away as Japan,” said Tim.

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