WWII Archaeology

Day of Archaeology – Norfolk

This morning I’ll be working mainly on former RAF Coltishall, a World War Two and Cold War airfield, which closed in 2006 and which Norfolk County Council bought in 2013.  This currently takes up a lot of my time, and little did I expect when I started digging in 1970 that one day a) I’d be a County Archaeologist and b) that we’d have expanded the scope of our interest to include, for example, milestones and other roadside heritage assets, and buildings as recent as 1980 (another Cold War heritage asset, a rare DIY bunker just outside Norwich).  Anyway, I’m just about to make two calls.  The first to a conservator at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (Cambs) to get some advice on how best to maintain and/or restore the huge military murals painted during the First Gulf War on the insides of the steel doors of Hangar 1.  Second to a local resident who turns out to have detailed knowledge of the site, including the World War Two E-pens, for Spitfires or Hurricanes, two of which are extant and one of which we have just cleared of ivy, undergrowth and weeks (through our Norfolk Monuments Management Project).  He also knows about our three Pickett-Hamilton forts, two of which were very recently relocated by the Airfield Research Group, hiding under the turf (and locations not known to anyone who I’ve met on site, some of whom have been there for decades and involved in its maintenance).  Also they are not visible on aerial photographs, which I would have expected.

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council