Washington: A combination of old and new technology - laser and pedal power - is being used to uncover hitherto unknown facts about the layout of Nottingham`s sandstone caves.
This is the very place where the city`s famous medieval ale was brewed and, where the legendary Robin Hood is said to have been imprisoned.
The Nottingham Caves Survey, being carried out by archaeologists from Trent & Peak Archaeology at The University of Nottingham, has already produced extraordinary, three dimensional, fly through, colour animation of caves that have been hidden from view for centuries.
Below the grounds of Nottingham Castle and across the city there is a labyrinth of medieval tunnels, dungeons, maltings and cellars - people even carved primitive living quarters out of Nottingham``s sandstone cliffs.
The man-made caves, cut into the strata of rock known as Sherwood Sandstone, are being recorded by laser scanners, which produce up to 500,000 survey points a second, enabling us to see these excavations as never before.
Archaeologists already know of around 450 caves - some are well documented and currently scheduled monuments of local and national importance.
"This remarkable new technology will create a full measured record of the caves in three dimensions. This gives us two really important things - a highly detailed archaeological record of the historic caves, and a new way for people to view caves they may never have seen before. For the first time visitors will be able to explore Nottingham`s unique caves with a laptop or smartphone over the web. However, there have to be many more caves that we don`t even know about and we want to hear from anyone who might have a sandstone tunnel at the back of their house, office or garden," Dr David Walker, of Trent & Peak Archaeology, said.
The survey will build on the work of the British Geological Survey carried out in the 1980s.