A Baltic Gem explores the mystery of an Amber pebble at Creswell Crags

By Sarah Jackson | 19 November 2013

A simple amber pebble is the star of an exhibition revealing new information about the Ice Age settlement at Creswell Crags

Close up of amber pebble.
Amber pebble found in Robin Hood Cave, Creswell Crags.© Courtesy of Creswell Crags
Visitors to Creswell Crags in Nottinghamshire will have the opportunity to explore a unique amber pebble brought to the Crags in the Ice Age.

A new temporary exhibition, funded by a grant from Museum Development East Midlands and on display until March 2014, will attempt to reveal the secrets of this unassuming-but-rare artefact.

Victorian archaeologists found the unassuming pebble in the largest cave at the location, Robin Hood Cave.

“We have enjoyed the opportunity of bringing the amber pebble out of the permanent exhibition and exploring its significance in more detail," says Exhibitions Officer Hannah Boddy.

“Why it was brought here by visiting Ice Age tribes is uncertain, and it just makes the ‘gem’ all the more intriguing.”

The exhibition explores why the pebble was brought to the Crags and its possible function. One theory suggests that it was brought to the area to be worked for decorative purposes; the exhibition includes an image of a Stone Age Baltic Amber carved horse from the Natural History Museum as an example of what the stone could have become.

Others believe that the stone may have been used for medical purposes. Amber has long been believed to have medicinal properties, from the Ancient Greeks right up until the 20th century.

However, a final theory suggests that the stone’s presence merely reflects the very human (and Magpie-like) desire to find and collect beautiful objects. All of these theories are explored in the exhibition, giving visitors the chance to decide for themselves what they think

Creswell Crags forms part of one of the most important archaeological landscapes in Europe. Evidence suggests that its cave sites have been inhabited since the last Ice Age in Britain.

The discovery of Britain’s earliest cave art in 2003 was billed as one of the most important prehistoric finds in the last decade. The images of birds, deer, bison and horses have been dated to be around 13,000 years old.

  • A Baltic Gem is open 10am-4.30pm Saturday and Sunday (open daily from February).

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Follow Sarah Jackson on Twitter @SazzyJackson.

Exhibition view of A Baltic Gem at Creswell Crags.
Exhibition view of A Baltic Gem.© Courtesy of Creswell Crags
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