Monsters, Mothers & Others


In the third year of This Girl Codes we worked with Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge straddling Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire with caves and 50,000 years of history. In 2018 Creswell Crags discovered hundreds of witch marks, symbols to ward off evil or misfortune in Robin Hood Cave which were previously thought to have been graffiti.

Witch marks and Mother Grundy, who gave her name to a cave at Creswell Crags, served as inspiration for exploring themes of witch craft, magic and their historical links to women. Another element we looked at throughout the workshops were the five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight) to create interactive artwork.

During our Heritage Hack Lab pop-up events at Creswell Crags and the week-long Curiosity Academy in the summer holidays guest artists and speakers brought amazing creative workshops. Tyler Turner helped us write spell poems, Michael Borkowsky showed us how to make perfumes, Ash Green spoke about their career and supported Bitsy game design, electrical engineer and director of Kakou Ann Fomukong-Boden led an amazing audio workshop and spoke about her career. Curator of the Caves Angharad Jones passed on her extensive knowledge of the site and its history as well as showing some of the Crags’ incredible artefacts.

Lead artist Cora Glasser challenged everyone to be creative with technology and electronics enabling participants to make artwork speak via sensors and plants to talk when touched.


“Sense enriching day” – Participant


“It’s intelligent art” – Participant’s Mum when seeing the interactive artworks at the end of the week


“I really enjoyed the perfume making and thinking about the smells in relation to the cave and Mother Grundy.” – Participant

 “It was wonderful. Seeing the same participants across the week, how they were making friends with each other. It was really valuable, all the activities they probably have never done before and the participants came up with some really interesting questions and conversations.” Curator, Angharad Jones

Resources from our Heritage Hack Labs at Creswell Crags

Bletchley Park

As part of the Curiosity Academy, we had an inspiring trip to Bletchley Park where we explored the ‘Art of Data’ exhibition and learnt about the phenomenal work that took place on site and how a third of their codebreaker staff were women.

“[when asked what this project has meant to them] It is freeing…learning about women in history and what role they played, being in the same physical space as them (in the caves/at Bletchley) …and imagining even the small conversations and feelings they would have had.”

 “It’s somewhere I never would have probably visited without this trip. That said, I have really enjoyed it. I love being transported into another world and using my imagination. It brings all the things you’re taught to life.” – Participant

“It was valuable for our daughters to see the place first hand, be able to learn about it whilst being where it happened, not just from a textbook. Thanks for the opportunity to come.” Attendee


To find out more about a volunteer’s insight into our Curiosity Academy, please read Ellie Rostron’s blog here