Record Details

NHER Number:38316
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of World War Two military defence complex


A large complex of World War Two military defences and structures is visible on aerial photographs along the coast at West Runton. This includes various anti-tank obstructions such as scaffolding, barbed wire, minefield and cubes, plus several stretches of trench and associated structures.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 18700 43105
Map Sheet:TG14SE

Full description

March 2004. Norfolk NMP.
A large group of World War Two military defences and structures protecting the beach and cliff at West Runton, visible on RAF aerial photographs from 1941 (S1) and 1946 (S2). Surrounding the 'woman hithe' beach entrance is an extremely wide scaffolding construction, 11m wide and 90m long, running from TG 1855 4319 to TG 1862 4315. Two lines of barbed wire, up to 400m long, have also been placed along the beach itself, running from TG 1818 4323 to TG 1861 4318 and from TG 1862 4316 to TG 1900 4308. In 1941 (S1) ten anti-tank cubes block passage on the Water Lane road itself, centred on TG 1856 4317. However by 1946 (S2) this roadblock has been removed, however three lines of four cubes are visible on the beach from TG 1862 4314 to TG 1865 4313. It is possible that these are the same cubes used in the earlier roadblock relocated onto the beach by 1946. However other similar shape and size structures are visible further along the beach to the east, at TG 1870 4311, TG 1874 4311, TG 1883 4309.

To the immediate west of this is a large scoop, 38m across, in the side of the cliffs, centred on TG 1845 4318. It is possible that this is merely an area of cliff collapse, although the sides look quite neat and the scoop is slightly terraced into the cliff, with a level platform about half way down. A curvilinear ditch runs from TG 1850 4313 to TG 1847 4318 into the scooped area. It is possible that an already collapsed section of cliff had been consolidated into a defensive position, associated with the military structures in the area. This scooped area cuts through the main firing platform of a World War One firing range (NHER 38315) and therefore must be relatively recent.

To the south of this are two lines of barbed wire running down towards Water Lane. These continue over the road, with one curving around towards the cliffs at TG 1870 4310 and the other continuing for approximately 500m to the east and forking to finish at TG 1902 4303 and TG 1904 4301. This second line of barbed wire may have been positioned on a slight bank as it looks quite raised, although this is not certain, as it is not visible on later aerial photographs.

Another major element of the site is several long stretches of military trenches can be seen running along the top of the cliff. These trenches run from TG 1857 4314 to TG 1888 4304, and cover a total length of about 340m. Individually the trenches run from TG 1855 4315 to TG 1865 4311. This trench has a northern bank created from up-cast. To the immediate east of this trench at TG 1865 4311 there is a 3m square structure, most likely a type 20 pillbox. This is situated next to a loop of trench, which continues north, into a area of fragmentary ditch sections, centred on TG 1866 4312. Another extensive section of trench runs from TG 1866 4311 to TG 1886 4304. The eastern end of this defines a minefield visible on 1946 RAF aerial photographs (S2). This area is located on top of the cliff at TG 1880 4306 and is approximately 76m x 50m in size. To the east of this are several other sections of trench up to 80m long, centred on TG 1887 4306. The northern ditch is much wider, up to 2m, and has an associated rectangular sunken feature at TG 1889 4307, 3m by 1.5m, which appears to have a surrounding outer wall or structure.

To the east of the site in 1941 is roughly triangular of zigzag trench, centred on TG 1918 4299, measuring 35m across. Within this enclosed area stands the shell of a hexagonal structure with no roof. This is at TG 1918 4298 and measures 4m by 3m. It is possible that this is a pillbox. Neither of these features survives on the 1946 images.

To the western end of the site is another area of trenches and sunken features, centred on TG 1852 4317. This includes two L-shaped trenches cutting down towards the road. There are also several possible structures and markings suggesting the locations of previously removed buildings. At TG 1852 4318 a possible 5m by 2.5m structure has recently been removed, also at TG 1848 4315, a rectangular mark indicates the former presence of a 10m by 6.5m structure. On the eastern side of the road two large buildings are still present. It is possible that these had a military purpose, although they may also be related to the hithe. At TG 1852 4313 there is a 10m by 7m building and at TG 1856 4315 another measuring 9m by 4m.

A possible pillbox is visible near the base of the cliff at TG 1886 4310. This appears to be hexagonal in shape and measures 4.5m across. This may be a type 22 pillbox. The structure is visible on the 1941 RAF aerial photographs (S1). Several other earthworks which appear to be gun emplacements are visible, such as at TG 1908 4297, TG 1894 4307 and at TG 1881 4309.
S. Massey (NMP) 24 March 2004.

May-November 2004. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey.
Inter-tidal survey (Environmental Zone 15), Context 277:
Three wooden posts were in an east to west row between TG 18428 43192 to TG 18432 43193. They were partly buried by a slumped section of cliff.
See assessment report (S3) for further details.
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.421).
J. Allen (NLA) 25 April 2005. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 21 July 2019.

Monument Types

  • BARBED WIRE OBSTRUCTION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MINEFIELD (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PILLBOX (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PRACTICE TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SLIT TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TANK TRAP (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF S/378 71-2 07-AUG-1941 (NMR).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1571 3183-4 07-JUN-1946 (Norfolk SMR TG 1843A, TG 1943A).
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Robertson, D., Crawley, P., Barker, A., and Whitmore, S. 2005. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey. Assessment Report and Updated Project Design. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 1045.

Related records - none

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