Peel Street Caves

[Image: A 3D laser scan of the Peel Street Caves—actually a former sand mine beneath the city—courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

It’s hard to resist a note that says a “new cave” has been “uploaded,” but the Nottingham Caves Survey—previously mentioned here—has announced just that, putting 3D laser scans of the incredible Peel Street Caves on their website.

Like smoke rings breaking apart and slowly looping inside the planet, their near-endless recursivity makes it almost impossible to see where they begin.

[Image: Plan of the Peel Street Caves, courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

The “caves,” however, are really a former sand mine:

It is thought that the mine was in use from around 1780 to 1810. However it is possible that the mine was worked from an even earlier date, acting as a direct source of sand for a nearby glass works which was in operation until 1760. The mine was forgotten until about 1892 when the caves became a tourist attraction, “Robin Hood’s Mammoth Cave.” A map of 1844 shows a number of properties on Mansfield Road. Some of these have basements cut into the sandstone which open out into the sand mine.

The caves were transformed into bomb shelters during WWII. How spectacular to own one of those basements, though, that “open out into the sand mine”—and how doubly spectacular to discover such a connection only accidentally, tapping on a hollow wall downstairs or finally forcing open a door that had been rusted shut, finding, there both beneath and behind your house, this strange labyrinth of voids uncoiling through the city.

Read more at the Nottingham Caves Survey (or previously on BLDGBLOG).

City of Holes

[Image: Courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

Some new images of the ongoing laser-scan project taking place in the caves beneath Nottingham, England, have been released. “The Nottingham Caves Survey is in the process of recording all of Nottingham’s 450+ sandstone caves,” the organizers explain.

From malting caves and circular kilns to a 19th-century underground butcher, via the Shire Hall and, of course, Mortimer’s Hole, it’s intoxicating to imagine a city whose most exciting discoveries lie somewhere far below its own streets and urban surfaces, in a delirious sprawl of artificially enlarged sandstone caves.

[Images: Courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

Check out this video, below, which is basically just a fly-and-walk-through of the resulting scans.

Like the short film La Subterranea, which we screened a few years back at the Silver Lake Film Fest, the video suggests a fundamentally porous urban world in which, as Alex Trevi writes, “day and night, laser scanners that have gone mobile will be deployed into these voids, and bit by pinprick bit, these labyrinths that once confounded, concealed and even consumed trespassers with their disorienting mazes will resolve into total comprehensibility. Every detail will be known to you.”

The city, CAT-scanned, becomes a labyrinth of complete transparency.

Imagine, for instance, a city consumed by its own archaeology—a hole complex of obsessive-compulsive excavation—where the streets are just the thinnest of bridges spanning a sponge-like void below.

[Images: Courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

For more, check out the site of the Nottingham Caves Survey, which has link after link after link to explore; perhaps start with their Cave Map and move onward from there.

[Image: The scanner at work; courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

All in all, this might be the best advertisement for a city—intentional or not—that I’ve ever seen: drawing people to visit based on quasi-holographic laser scans of that city’s underground history.

(Via Archaeology News).