Record Details

NHER Number:39109
Type of record:Monument
Name:World War Two military site

Summary

A large World War Two military site, where there is evidence both of training activity and of a heavy anti-aircraft battery, is visible as extant earthworks, buildings and structures on aerial photographs taken from 1940 onwards. It surrounds the site of Mundesley Holiday Camp (NHER 34570) which appears to have been requisitioned and used as a camp during the war. A variety of different features are visible, including slit trenches, pillboxes, concrete and earthwork gun and/or searchlight emplacements, spigot mortar emplacements, barbed wire and various huts and buildings. Aerial photographs taken throughout the war document the development of the site from its use as a training area and the erection of coastal defences, to the construction of two consecutive searchlight and/or gun batteries. Although the post-war photographs indicate that the clearance of military structures from the area had begun by 1946, it is possible that some elements may survive, either hidden by vegetation or as levelled earthworks and structures.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 3230 3582
Map Sheet:TG33NW
Parish:PASTON, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

December 2004. Norfolk NMP.
A World War Two military site, which appears to have been used for training and as a heavy anti-aircraft battery, is visible as extant earthworks, building and structures on aerial photographs taken from September 1940 to July 1946 (S1-6), centred around TG 3229 3573. It surrounds Mundesley Holiday Camp, which was clearly being used as a military camp. The site, which was established by September 1940, appears to have fulfilled a number of different functions. Barbed wire and some of the small gun emplacements and pillboxes form part of a wider network of coastal defences which extends out into the surrounding area. The barbed wire, principally laid out along the cliff top, continues to the south-east (as NHER 39150); NHER 39151 continues the line of coastal defences to the north-west. The site also appears to have been used for military training; many of the slit trenches at the site are clustered together around TG 3218 3590, a layout which is unlikely to represent strategic defence. The third and perhaps the most important function of the site was as a heavy anti-aircraft battery. The first phase of the battery, which comprised two large concrete emplacements as well as other smaller structures, is visible on photographs taken in 1940 (S1-2); the second, for which there are four large emplacements, was established by July 1941.

By September 1940 (S1-2) many of the features of the site are already in place. The group of practice slit trenches mentioned above are visible, as are more isolated trenches at TG 3194 3594 and TG 3221 3570. Amongst the main group, the northernmost trench stands out in having a crenellated pattern more typical of World War One trenches rather than the zigzag pattern usual during World War Two. It appears, however, to be a fresh earthwork, and therefore presumably represents a practice trench excavated during World War Two but using an outmoded layout. The narrow trenches visible to its east do not appear to be particularly deep and may have been partially backfilled or only partially excavated. On the part of the site north of the road, earthwork emplacements are visible at TG 3213 3599 and TG 3193 3602; the latter may also have a structural or concrete element to it but this was not clear enough to map. A small slit trench is visible at TG 3211 3604, a possible spigot mortar emplacement at TG 3199 3601, and small structures (pillboxes or emplacements) can be seen at TG 3195 3588, TG 3204 3608, TG 3231 3586 and TG 3233 3584 (the latter appears to be a line of several emplacements but they were not clear enough to map individually). A hut at TG 3229 3586 may have been a pre-existing feature made use of by the military; it has a blast wall, fence or similar structure on its east side. Activity, including a possible emplacement, can be seen on the cliff face around TG 3205 3612.

To the south of the road, a gun battery is visible towards the southern edge of the site, its various elements sited at the junction of pre-existing field boundaries (S7). It consists of two large concrete emplacements at TG 3236 3555 and TG 3248 3557 (the latter has some kind of auxiliary structure on its north-west side), a smaller emplacement or pillbox at TG 3247 3564, and what appears to be a trench surrounded by a blast wall (this is only clearly visible on photographs taken in 1941, S3). Their position at a slight distance from and angle to the coastline suggests that the emplacements were used for heavy anti-aircraft guns, rather than the site being a coastal battery. One or more of the emplacements might have housed a searchlight but whether this was the case is not known. Other features include a possible spigot mortar emplacement or pillbox at TG 3213 3583, a small emplacement or pillbox at TG 3230 3570, and a small concrete structure on the cliff edge at TG 3261 3557 (again a possible emplacement, perhaps for a spigot mortar, or pillbox).

By July 1941 (S3-4) the two large emplacements on the southern part of the site appear to have been partly demolished or at least had their guns/lights and any overhead protection removed. Four new concrete emplacements are visible at TG 3226 3567, TG 3230 3568, TG 3231 3576 and TG 3231 3581. The layout and positioning of the emplacements is again suggestive of a heavy anti-aircraft battery, with one or more of the emplacements again perhaps housing a searchlight. A roughly rectangular, sunken building at TG 3240 3570 is probably the command post. A square structure at TG 3223 3570 is also likely to be an associated feature. There is a line of possible barbed wire to its north. Other elements visible in 1941 comprise a length of barbed wire running along the cliff edge from TG 3268 3549 to TG 3204 3609, an embanked trench at TG 3249 3564, a spigot mortar emplacement or other type of concrete structure at TG 3224 3567 and two weapons pits or small emplacements at TG 3229 3583. Signs of activity can be seen on the cliff face at TG 3268 3553. To the north of the road, a concrete emplacement or pillbox has been constructed at TG 3230 3586 and a possible slit trench excavated between this and the hut to its west. Immediately to the north is an earthwork emplacement or weapons pit protected by a bank. Rectilinear parchmarks (not mapped) at TG 3218 3593 and TG 3208 3603 presumably relate to military activity or structures but it is not clear what. Pits and other disturbance (not mapped) around the slit trench at TG 3194 3594 may represent further training activity.

Few changes are evident on photographs taken in 1943 (S5) although further barbed wire is visible from TG 3257 3558 to TG 3246 3556, and from TG 3206 3581 to TG 3230 3551. At the southern end of the latter is a barbed wire enclosure. This presumably protects a specific feature but it is difficult to make anything out within it. By 1946 (e.g. S6) there are signs of some of the military features being removed, such as the trench at TG 3214 3595 being backfilled. Additional features which might relate to the wartime use of the site consist of a small square building on the cliff edge at TG 3250 3565 and a possible structure or building at TG 3216 3583 which is represented only by the disturbance left by its demolition. Although many of the World War Two features appear to have been demolished or levelled soon after the war, some elements, such as the bases of several of the emplacements, are still visible on later photographs (e.g. S8). While some features may still partially survive, either hidden by vegetation or levelled, much of the site appears to have been destroyed through a combination of deliberate post-war clearance, agricultural activity and coastal erosion.
(S1-8)
S. Tremlett (NMP), 23 December 2004.

December 2004. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey.
Land-based survey; Area A42, Context 28:
Two areas of low mounds and/or banks, situated on cliff top between TG 32320 35732 and TG 32384 35721. Covered in grass and brambles these features had a maximum height of 0.75m and may have been associated with the World War Two site recorded at this location.
See assessment report (S9) for further details.
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.421).
P. Watkins (HES), 2 July 2015. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 21 July 2019.

Monument Types

  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY COMMAND POST (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BARBED WIRE OBSTRUCTION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GUN EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • HEAVY ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • HUT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY TRAINING SITE (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)
  • SEARCHLIGHT BATTERY? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SLIT TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SPIGOT MORTAR EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • WEAPONS PIT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1940. RAF 2/BR186 12-5 05-SEP-1940 (NMR).
<S2>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1940. NMR TG 3235/9-11 (MSO 31020 26/BR14/12 4874-6) 19-SEP-1940.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF S/330 32-5 16-JUL-1941 (NMR).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF S/358 20-2 30-JUL-1941 (NMR).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1943. RAF AC/161 5120-1 04-JAN-1943 (NMR).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1634 5110-2 09-JUL-1946 (NMR).
<S7>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-7. Ordnance Survey second edition 25" (1902-7) Sheet XX. 11. 25" to 1'.
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1952. RAF 540/690 5089-90 11-MAR-1952 (NMR).
<S9>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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