Updated 30 Aug 2006

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 455


Posted pre-1918

Engraving from 1850

Great Rutland Cavern,
Matlock Bath

The Rutland Cavern, which is situated on the Heights of Abraham, claims pre-eminence over all the others for the extent of its natural excavations and the beauty of its mineral decoration. It is said to have been worked as a lead mine as far back as the period of the Roman occupation, and it is recorded that during the reigns of some of the Plantagenet kings convicts were condemned to labour in it. A narrow passage leads from the entrance beneath a succession of archways, with openings leading off in different directions to openings and cavities that ramify and extend into the heart of the mountain. Huge cracks and openings reveal themselves here and there in the roof, and occasionally a cavern is entered where the walls are incrusted with crystallisations of calcareous spar, that reflects the lights and gleam and sparkle with dazzling scintillations, reminding the spectator of the lines:-

    [here are 7 lines of fashionable poetry replete with classical allusions, which I cannot force myself to transcribe, but a scan of which may be obtained from the webmaster on request - Ed]

A succesion of vaulted passages leads to an immense natural cavity in the further recesses of the rock, which has received the name of the Roman Gallery, and the not less fanciful name of the Druid's Altar has been given to a huge block of limestone, that appears to have fallen from the superincumbent mass. Upon the "altar" the guide usually places a chemical preparation which, when lighted, illuminates the whole place, and casts a weird-like glare upon every projecting crag and inequality. The cavern is now lighted with gas.
from "Illustrated Guide to Matlock" by John Heywood 1910.

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