10 October 2017
A new study on First World War fieldworks in England by WYG’s principal archaeologist Martin Brown reveals extensive trenches in England - evidence that the nation was considerably militarised. The trenches in England are as much physical evidence of the Great War as those on the Western Front or at Gallipoli.
Published by Historic England, Martin’s thematic study brings together evidence of trench systems and other defensive works from a range of sources.
Martin said: “It has been a privilege to produce this research report for Historic England. By recognising the English trenches as part of the heritage resource we add a new dimension to remembrance of that conflict. People will hopefully realise the extent of these remains, that they may visit local examples and that they will appreciate how the whole nation was militarised. Some people may be surprised at the extent of preparations against a German invasion; the threat was almost as real as in 1940.”
The study demonstrates a wide geographical spread of fieldworks that can be divided into three principal forms:
The report considers the development of field fortification during the conflict, presents case studies of notable sites and makes recommendations for further works. A supporting gazetteer has been created to document identified examples.
Martin added: “Now, as the First World War passes into history and out of memory, this Historic England report and others in the series will help us better understand these events of a century ago.”
Martin was part of a team of archaeologists who earlier this year identified a unique network of First World War tunnels under Salisbury Plain. Work is underway across the Salisbury Plain Training Area to prepare for the Service personnel returning from Germany in 2019 under the Army Basing Programme. The tunnels are part of a First World War battlefield used to train men to fight in and under the trenches of France and Belgium.
Read the full report at historicengland.org.uk
Image credit: WYG and Wessex Archaeology