Home Front Legacy project launch
The Council for British Archaeology and English Heritage have launched a major public engagement project to enable local people to record the surviving remains of the First World War across Britain using an online toolkit and app.
CBA President, Dan Snow recorded the first site of the project at a recently identified practice battlefield on heathland in Gosport, Hampshire. 'Sitting in this front line practice trench is a significant reminder of the tremendous efforts made by men and women here in the UK as they headed to war 100 years ago.'
The site is the size of 17 football pitches and contains two sets of opposing trench systems, each with a 200 metre-long (660ft) front line, supply trenches and dug outs with a no man's land in between the two sides.
The site was discovered a few months ago by Rob Harper, a conservation officer with Gosport Borough Council, who spotted a set of strange lines on an aerial photograph from the 1950s and went to investigate, 'On the home front there were many tens of thousands of men coming through sites like this, training ready to go straight out. They were actually experimenting and thinking about how they develop the trench systems and this may well be to do with that, it was a constantly moving science.'
David Hopkins, County Archaeologist for Hampshire said, 'It is well-known that troops were stationed at nearby Browndown Camp but to date no historical records have emerged noting the practice trenches. We need to use archaeological methods to investigate and increase our understanding of the site and others around the UK through the Home Front Legacy project, to illuminate this hugely important period in our history and make sure these sites and stories will be captured in our Historic Environment Records.'
Dan Snow said: "Our aim is to record and preserve vulnerable sites, buildings and structures - camps, drill halls, factories and observation posts for example, before they and the stories they bear witness to are lost forever.
Our volunteers will be scouring the nation's towns, villages, countryside and beaches to track down local First World War places that are just not in the records. They'll upload observations on what they find to a specially designed app and their finds will appear on an online map to open up the impact of the war on our landscape for everyone.'
Maria Miller, culture secretary and the Government's lead on the First World War commemorations, said: 'The Home Front Legacy 1914-18 will have a lasting benefit in that the most significant buildings and sites discovered will be listed or scheduled. And all the sites recorded will be added to the publicly accessible Historic Environment Records held by each local authority. So I hope lots of people will get involved.'
A key aim of the project is to link up with a wide range of partner bodies as well as communities, to identify new First World War sites, contribute local research and add to our knowledge right across the UK.
The project toolkit has received funding support from English Heritage, Historic Scotland and Cadw.
The project has been developed in collaboration with: Archaeology Scotland, Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO), Cadw, English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Queens University Belfast, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, University of Bristol, University of York, Welsh Archaeological Trusts.
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Download our press release and read about the launch on the English Heritage website.
Read Dan Snow's Home Front Legacy blog on Heritage Calling
See First World War sites on our Home Front Legacy Flickr page
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