Friday, 25 September 2009

Standing Building Recording Course report

21 September

Another weekend of work behind us and once again I think we can show the need to record this kind of archaeology on the ground.  We have yet another example of what appears to be the case is not actually being the case once you look at it closely...

We have been looking at two apparently identical, rectangular,  brick and concrete blast shelters in Oxleas Wood, Shooters Hill.  Sited only some 30m apart, superficially they seem identical but...

Built we think between 1939 and 1942, they were situated in the grounds of on e of the large Victorian Houses which lined the Oxleas Wood side of Shooters Hill Road [now the A207] and it puzzled us why there seems to have been such an over provision of Shelter for what was a a relatively sparsely populated part of Shooters Hill, in particular why these two large buildings, which seem to be of a type most often found in public situations like streets and schools are literally down at the bottom of a, now very over grown, garden.

We still cannot answer that question over provision-  more work in the archive is needed-  but we can at least say that the two buildings are not actually built to identical specifications, with what we call BS1 [Blast Shelter 1], being a couple of courses of bricks higher than BS2 [Blast Shelter 2] its companion to the east.  So they are close together, built on roughly the same north/south orientation, with doors on the northern end of the western elevation and an escape knock out panel in the southern elevation but they are not built to identical plans; why? 

We have to admit we cannot answer that one yet either.  One possibility is we are dealing with provision for staff in buildings requisitioned by the Armed Forces, Local Authority, or another organisation.  Indeed,  we have anecdotal information that at least one house in the immediate area, Summer Court, seems to have been requisitioned for Woolwich Arsenal Drawing Office personnel and our shelters may fall within the land take for that House.  However this needs to be checked.

Anyway, leaving those tantalising questions hanging,  as ever thanks to my fellow co-ordinator Guy Taylor and to the weekend's recording team;  Richard, Theresa, Brian, Stuart, Tim, Claire, Stefan and Michael and as ever to LB Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces Department for letting us do the work.

Look out for an interim report on the survey coming soon.

24 September

This is a heads up for some forthcoming events which I hope will be of interest to the Digging Dad's Army Blog community...


3 October 2009

Basque Children of 37 Inaugural Lecture

"The Basque Refugee Children in Britain 1937-1939: Personal Memory and Public History"
Time:  14.30
Place:  Kensington and Chelsea Library Meeting Room, Philimore Walk, London W8 7RY
Dr Tom Buchanan will talk on "The Basque Refugee Children in Britain 1937-1939: Personal Memory and Public History"
This is bound to be fascinating as, not only is Dr Buchanan an excellent speaker, his subject ties in exactly with DDA's research on the Colony at Shornells and the influence of the Spanish Civil War on politics and local activism in south east London.  Do go if you can.

Saturday October 24th 2009

Post Graduate Conference:  Conflict Archaeology of the Modern

Time:  9:30 am to 5 pm

University of Bristol
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
43 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1UU

The conference scene is set by our own Dr Nicholas Saunders and Speakers include Martin Brown of No Mans Land, Jonathan Berry of CADW and John Winterburn of Bristol University and the Great Arab Revolt Project.  I am presenting a paper on the methods we have been using to research urban WW2 Stop Lines here at Shooters Hill and other subjects include, Battlefield Archaeology in Belgium,  Albanian Bunkers, the Stop Lines around Bristol and the use of Bone to produce Trench Art.  All in all a terrific cross section of research in one easily digested day.

Do come if you can because this subject will only live and grow if we meet, talk and argue, with each other. 

There is no delegate fee but prior registration is recommended as places are limited.

To register and to receive further details please email:

For further information please visit the conference Blog site at

November 2-6

Geophysical Survey Techniques-  A one week practical course at Eaglesfield Park, Shooters Hill.

This course is designed as a module on the Birkbeck MA Archaeology Course but is also open to non-MA students.  It is led by our colleagues from Archaeophysica and I will be introducing the site and helping with the interpretation and local liaison.
The course is very hands on and introduces the range of geophysical techniques currently used in archaeology. Using these techniques, you will collect and process data with the aim of providing information about the location and nature of buried features on archaeological sites.
Thanks to our partnership with Birkbeck, Geophysics has been central to our work at Eaglesfield and we expect more exciting results this November.  The work is also informing a proposed Eco development at Eaglesfield Park [so you will be helping the local amphibian population] and there will be the usual Open Afternoon for visitors [details later].

Mon 2 Nov-Fri 6 Nov 2009, 10am-5pm
5 meetings
£200 / £230
Martin J Rosevearne BSc, MSc, MEAGE

For anyone undertaking formal study the course is worth 15 CATS points at Level 4

To find out more and enrol...
tel: 020 7631 6627/6631
fax: 020 7631 6686

Course website archaeology/

...and another reminder that the excellent Forgotten Frontline Exhibition at Whitstable Museum runs until 16 November.

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