Mafia connections, the Emerald Isle and a Highland Fling travel blog

circular tanning pits dating back to 1250 probably for sheep and goat...

On the way to Devil's Arse

On our way in to enjoy the rising water and the constant...

Cavern entrance - big!

Getting down at Devil's Arse - no one mentioned this bit

Replica of the king's skeleton and armour

Image of the king's skeleton in grave

Skeleton of King Richard lll in grave

Lovely street in Leichester - a bit cold though

Even with abysmal weather, temperatures hovering around nine degrees and constant rain we've still managed to get out and about and see some pretty amazing things.

Who knew that there existed a "City of Caves" with over 500 original sandstone caves underneath the streets of Nottingham dating back to the dark ages. Did Robin Hood and Friar Tuck ever hide out here?

We took a tour complete with hard hats to investigate the social history of the caves and learn more about the events that once happened inside these underground dwellings. We learnt that the ones under a Nottingham Shopping Centre have been variously used over the years as a tannery, public house cellars, and more recently as an air raid shelter. It was all very interesting and made more so by the very enthusiastic guide (probably a history student).

On Tuesday we went underground as well, this time in the Peak District. We did a tour of Peak Cavern, also known as the Devil's Arse (so called because of the flatulent-sounding noises from inside the cave when flood water is draining away - mind you we'd been out for a curry the night before so who really knows where the sounds were coming from).

Peak Cavern is almost entirely natural and part of the largest cave system in the Peak District. We learnt that until 1915 the cave was home to some of Britain's last troglodytes, who lived in houses built inside the cave mouth, and made a living from rope making, while the depths of the cave were known as a haven for bandits. The rope making lasted for 350 years and the rope was used in the local lead mines. Throughout the tour our eccentric guide kept commenting about how much the water level had risen since the morning tour, all the while continuing to lead us further inside. No one had mentioned we'd have to crouch down for part of the tour as the ceiling got closer and closer. At one stage we had to walk through an internal waterfall which wasn't there in the morning! We got out safely in the end but it was all rather a bit odd as Grae and I hadn't packed any cave diving gear or emergency food.

On Wednesday we visited the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester, that showcases the life of King Richard and tells the fascinating and moving story of the king’s life and death, and reveals one of the greatest archaeological detective stories ever told. As his lost remains were only discovered in a council carpark in 2012! The centre opened in 2014 on the site of Greyfriars, the medieval friary in whose church the King was buried in 1485. He now rests in peace in the catherdral across the square - a lot more dignified for the last Plantagenet King of England. With his death came the end of the English Middle Ages and the rise of the Tudor dynasty with Henry VII as the new King.

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