Sweet History landmark (photo)

Redcliffe Caves

Date: (1714-1837)

There is a local story that the maze of caves under Redcliffe Hill was used to store slaves before they were sold in Bristol. This might be because there were rumours that some French Sailors were kept in the caves as prisoners of war for a short time during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The caves were usually used to store goods for the ships in the port. On the wall above one of the entrances to the caves is a plaque which talks about the “Middle passage“. The plaque suggests that slaves were kept prisoner in the barred section inside the caves. This story may have started because goods used in the African and West Indian trades were stored in the caves.

Sand was collected from the caves to be made into glass for bottling beers and rum (made of molasses from sugar cane which was produced on the slave plantations) and for other glass that was used to make decorative things like beads that were traded with Africa.

Sometimes the caves are opened by Bristol City Council for people to explore. If you would like to find out more about the history of the caves visit: www.bristoltours.com/Redcliffe

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.