A complex series of passages mined from Red Sandstone covering an area of three acres. The passages are all horizontal and the roof height is constant at an average of 3m. Throughout the entire system there is a random scattering of pillars left by the miners to support the roof. The caves are divided into three main areas the front portion that was well known throughout history and is the largest area. The rear portion, which was "forgotten" , is somewhat smaller and contains many man made walls to divide the area and large deposits of dumped clay. The third area is the peripheral passageways, which are usually small crawls over the dumped clay making route finding interesting.
Unfortunately there are no natural caves the system was created by man mining the Red Sandstone for use in the Glass making trade. The first reference to the caves is 1346 when a Hermit was placed in them to pray for his benefactor Lord Thomas Berkely. There have been Dutch, Spanish and French prisoner held in them. Association with Smugglers and the Slave Trade but no evidence has been found to substantiate these myths. They have also been used for storage and dumping. The earliest writing so far found in the caves dates back to 1761. The caves were also used as Air Raid shelters during the Second World War. The main feature of the caves is that they have been left almost untouched since they were excavated.
After lengthy negotiations with Bristol City Council, these historic caves have now been reopened and access is controlled by Axbridge Caving Group on behalf of the Council. A strict leader system is enforced and parties up to 25 can visit the caves. The 2 hour guided tour provides a detailed history of both the caves and the area of Redcliffe which are closely interlinked.
See Redcliffe Caves Access Procedure