Wander around a WW1 Training School

Short blog this year….but…..

Last week I was excavating Roman stuff. Today I’m back on more familiar territory; back in 20th century looking for military practice trenches at the site of a WW1 training school, although I am not on my usual ‘patch’ which is the Aldershot area.

The site in question is in the south east – and, unusually, there is a contemporary sketched map of the trench system on this site, so having geo-referenced said map in some GIS software I now know roughly where the trenches should be. Having checked modern and WW2 era aerial photos I know a fair bit of the site now lies under ploughed fields, and the trenches no longer show in the photos. The remainder of the site lies in woodland, so, possible that some may survive there.

Arrived at site and loaded pockets up with GPS, camera, photo scales, notepad etc.

Overall plan is to look at the site, and asses its current state of preservation, and whether it shows potential for any field work.

The site lies on publicly accessible land, but car parking is about a mile away (and it’s raining too), So walked to site (thankful for my trusty Tilley hat keeping me dry).

Easily found the first location on the map; an old quarry that predates the training school, but a useful fixed point to navigate around the rest of the site from.
Not far from the quarry some very badly preserved trench still present – only about 5cm deep, but clearly following the correct pattern, and clearly in the correct location based on the map.

Further round the site some trees sticking into the fields indicate where a line of trench should be – in the woods just a few metres away, again, very badly preserved section of trench – following the line this trench would have taken across the field should indicate where further trenches would have been.

At the far end of the site, which again is in open fields, there are variations in grass colour where the map suggests there would have been a sap running off a trench, so again that looks promising.

Having taken GPS readings and scribbled notes – took a bit more of a wander round the area, and have now ascertained land ownership for different parts of the site.

That’s the best part of four hours looking at the site, so probably enough as a preliminary survey, so head back to the car.

So, overall plan now is to write a short project proposal to take to the land owners, looking at a proper survey to methodically identify and record all remaining sections of trench, together with resistivity survey over some of the fields to confirm location of trenches and training hut, and some field walking on another section which records suggest should potentially have some surface finds.  Then maybe, depending on results of that, a bit of excavation……..

WW1 Military Practice Trench 100 years on.

WW1 Military Practice Trench 100 years on.