As part of Bristol Doors Open Day I visited Redcliffe Caves, which I had been wanting to do for so long! They are only open to the public for free once a year, although you can visit them for paid tours at other times.
Redcliffe Caves is a labyrinth of sandstone caves under the Redcliffe area of Bristol. They are man made-the stone was hollowed out in the 1700s to make sand for the glass industry.
After that, they were mostly used as storage for cargo for the ships departing from Bristol's port.
There are rumours that they were briefly used as a temporary prison for French sailors during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
There is also a local story that they were used to hold slaves, in a rather disturbing looking section of the caves which has barred windows. There appear to be no records of this though, so it could just be a story, perhaps borne out of confusion over goods used in African and West Indian trades being stored in the caves, or from the stories of the French prisoners.
Either way, the caves were rather spooky, although fascinating. They were used as one of the filming locations for the supernatural drama Being Human (which I am a big fan of) and I can see why. You could imagine all kinds of supernatural creatures seeking shelter in these caves.
Interesting sights in the caves, other than the pretty amazing caverns and pillars of the hollowed out stone, included some modern recreations of cave paintings, a few faces roughly carved into the stone,
tree roots reaching through the roof from a tree which once grew above the caves,
and a few stalactites.
Visiting the caves was a really interesting and unique experience. It's so odd to think that these hidden caverns are always there, underneath a bustling city.
You can find out more about Redcliffe Caves on the Redcliffe Caves Tours website.