Seminar for a new archaeological project:
Saturday 7 March 2009 from 11.00-13.00
to Digging Dad’s Army.
Dad’s Army: The East and South-East London People’s
War Project, is a new multi-disciplinary, community based
research project centered on a study area in the south east
and east London Boroughs of Greenwich, Barking and Dagenham,
Waltham Forest and Newham, and supported by the Great War
project will be launched at a Seminar on Saturday 7 March
which will explore aims and research questions and discuss
the creation of an effective structure to deliver the Project.
Seminar is open to Archaeologists, Historians, members of
the Museum and Archive Sector, Educationalists, and representatives
of existing National and Local Research Groups and Learned
Societies. We will also be inviting people with an interest
in interpretation such as those working in historic military
vehicle preservation, building recording, preservation and
interpretation and Living History/Costumed Interpretation.
Seminar will take place at Shrewsbury House, Shooters Hill,
now a community centre but in WW2 the ARP Control Centre for
seminar run from 11.00am to 1pm. In the afternoon, for those
interested, Andy Brockman will lead a tour of sites related
to WW1 and WW2 on Shooters Hill including those related to
Anti Invasion Stop Line Central as described in the most recent
edition of Current Archaeology.
Tour will leave from the Oxleas Café at 14.15. Please
indicate if you would be interested in joining the tour when
Entrance to Second World War air-raid shelter in Ashridge
Crescent, Shooters Hill, South East London.
Copyright: Andy Brockman.
Aims of the Digging Dad’s Army Project
term ‘people’s war’ is often used of 20th
century wars (as on the BBC website of the same name), but
is seldom defined and hardly ever explored archaeologically.
The East and South-East London People’s War Project
(ESELPWP) aims to create a multi-disciplinary but essentially
field-based project that will explore all aspects of the experience
of modern conflict in a densely populated urban landscape.
ESELPWP will use research into official and community archives,
oral history, and archaeological reconnaissance, survey, excavation,
and recording to explore the militarised landscapes and popular
experience of modern conflict between 1914 and 1945.
study area will extend from the Eltham/Shooters Hill area
in SE London, through the Woolwich Arsenal/Creekmouth area,
to the Wanstead Flats area of E London.
choice of this study area (the precise limits to be left open)
reflects the following:
An established project at Shooters Hill
2. A planned project at Wanstead Flats
3. Provisional interest in First World War air defences at
4. The size and importance of the Woolwich Arsenal arms research,
production, and distribution complex during the first half
of the 20th century, including both world wars and the start
of the Cold War.
5. That the area corresponds to the Second World War anti-invasion
Stop Line B.
6. That the area corresponds to a First World War air-defence
line (with two known balloon-aprons, one at Creekmouth, one
at Wanstead Flats), and AAA positions at Woolwich Garrison,
Shooters Hill, One Tree Hill, and elsewhere.
7. That an area of this size is manageable yet large enough
to encompass the geographical spread of interrelated air-defence
8. That, in relation to the 20th century air-defence of London,
the River Thames was a giant navigational aid rather than
a barrier, necessitating north-south, rather than east-west,
axes of defence.
A composite of air photos taken on 7 August 1944 showing Shooters
and Stop Line Central. Copyright: English Heritage.
Current research interests
project arises out of previous work by leading participants,
and constitutes a logical development of their evolving research
interests as field-based modern conflict archaeologists. Of
particular relevance are the following current research interests
(though this does not in any way preclude the development
of new ones):
The development of British air-defences in 1915-1918, both
in response to Zeppelin raids (1915-1918), and later to Gotha
and Giant raids (1917-1918).
2. The development of British ‘stop-line’ anti-invasion
defences in a heavily urbanised environment in 1939-1945.
3. The development of British air-defences from the mid 1930s
4. Popular experience of, and participation in, the militarisation
of East London during the Second World War, particularly in
the context of working class politics and popular fascism
and anti-fascism; specifically, alternative conceptions of
the war rooted in political differences, e.g. in relation
to the Home Guard.
5. The culture of commemoration and remembrance, from the
personal (e.g. ‘trench art’ and family photos),
through the collective (e.g. war memorials), to the official
(e.g. the listing and preservation of wartime buildings) as
well as the interpretation of the subject to contemporary
audiences in Museums, through the Arts and at public events
such as Living History/Costumed Interpretation events.
Planned Fieldwork in 2009
field reconnaissance of the Creekmouth area to explore a)
the site of a former airship shed where Zeppelin crash-debris
was stored during the First World War; and b) the site of
a balloon bed from the First World War.
field project with training school to be based at Shooters
Hill (but with the possibility of some work at other places)
from 13 to 21 June 2009. This to comprise:
A 2-day Introduction to Modern Conflict Archaeology course
2. A 5-day Basic Excavation and Recording Techniques course
3. A 2-day Standing-buildings Recording course (20-21 June)
field project will be directed and taught by Andy Brockman
and Neil Faulkner, with other specialist tutors. Features
for investigation and recording will include: a barrage-balloon
bed; the debris of a balloon site; a zigzag trench; a possible
World War One AAA gun-site and public and private air-raid
quick-firing anti-aircraft gun of First World War vintage.
This one is a mobile lorry-mounted gun,
but many were were in fixed positions, including two already
investigated by GWAG,
one at Monkhams Hill, and one at One Tree Hill. We suspect
another at Shooters Hill,
and will be digging for the foundations as part of the new
is keen to ensure that this project leaves a practical legacy
and lays the ground for further research. In order to achieve
this the project will:
Actively develop means of archiving and disseminating ESELPWP
data to ensure its preservation and accessibility to other
researchers as soon as possible after collection.
Conduct a training workshop aimed at developing a core team
of skilled community-based team members who will work in such
areas as oral history and local archive research.
fieldwork may take place as opportunities are identified.This
document has been compiled after preliminary discussions involving
Dr Neil Faulkner, Dr Nicholas Saunders, Martin Kender and