The Bridgnorth Hermitage Caves are located on the brow over looking Low Town south of the Hermitage (Wolverhampton Road) and were dwellings of the homeless poor.
The Caves were of Saxon origin. The caves first inhabitant was Ethelward or Aethelard (Grandson of King Alfred) who dwelled here in seclusion as a hermit. The Saxon name for the caves was Athelardetson.
Other hermits are listed as dwelling here in the reign of Edward III and the Magna Britannia of 1727 even records an old cave that was inhabited by a hermit.
There are many accounts of a tunnel from the cave that supposedly ran under the River Severn to the nearby Franciscan Friary as well as a second cave under the castle that connected with the hermitage caves. Nothing has ever been found to prove this existance.
The land was enclosed as the Forest Of Morfe in 1806. Hubert Smith, The Town Clerk, recorded on 4th June 1877 of two cottages in the Hermitage Caves and one including a fireplace, chimney, window and doorway.
His records show the Hermitage consisted of 4 carved caves, one of the caves was 33 feet in length and used as a Chapel.
Other records tell of a witch who dwelled in a large cave beyond the Chapel who had the power to stop horses.
One of the caves was converted into a Custodian’s Cottage. Jinny and Bill Norton lived here until 1939 when they and their neighbours at the Hermitage Caves, Jack and Diora Jarrett, moved in their new houses in Stourbridge Road.
The caves were visited for many years and a play area for local children. After a tragic accident in 2009 the caves were fenced off in 2010.
Sources : Clive Gwilt, Shropshire Geology, Shropshire Star & Gill Beesty