Record Details

NHER Number:42104
Type of record:Monument
Name:World War Two military defences and installations


A World War Two military site, comprising coastal defences such as lines of barbed wire and beach scaffolding, several pillboxes and other defensive structures, as well as ancillary structures such as huts and tents, is visible as a group of buildings, structures and earthworks on aerial photographs dating from 1940 onwards. The site stretched across a large expanse of Horsey dunes and what was formerly Horsey Marsh, encompassing an area stretching from the inter-tidal zone almost to the drained grassland 450m inland. Most of the structures associated with the site lay towards its seaward side, along a track separating the dunes from the unimproved grassland further inland. A pre-existing building (since demolished) which lay behind the main cluster of structures may have been utilised by the military personnel at the site. It should be noted that the line of defences continued along the coast to the northwest (e.g. NHER 42103) and southeast (NHER 42120) and that consequently the division of these defences into discrete sites is somewhat arbitrary. One of the pillboxes that formed part of the site survives as an extant structure (NHER 12843).

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 4663 2390
Map Sheet:TG42SE

Full description

October 2005. Norfolk NMP.
A World War Two military site comprising coastal defences and ancillary structures such as huts and tents is visible as a group of buildings, structures and earthworks on 1940s and later aerial photographs (S1), (S2), (S3), (S4) and (S5), centred at TG 4661 2390. It formed part of a continuous line of defences stretching along the coastline, recorded, for example, as NHER 42103 to the northwest and NHER 42120 to the southeast. The division of these defences into discrete archaeological sites is consequently somewhat arbitrary; the site described here comprises those defences and ancillary installations visible to the southeast of Horsey Gap, clustered around a former building (since demolished) and associated enclosure depicted on the Ordnance Survey 2nd edition map (S6) at TG 4671 2379.

Aerial photographs taken in 1940, (S1)and (S2), indicate that many elements of the site were put in place during the early years of the war. A barrier of barbed wire or beach scaffolding was erected on the beach, extending from TG 4676 2400 to TG 4689 2386. (Its location is approximate as it could not be mapped from a rectified part of the relevant aerial photographs, (S2)). This barrier is not visible on aerial photographs taken in August 1940 (S1) and was perhaps constructed during the following month (it is first visible in September of that year, (S2)). By 1946 (S3) it had been replaced by a more continuous line of scaffolding which extended for some distance in either direction along the beach (this is recorded as NHER 42105).

Several defensive structures are visible on the dunes behind the scaffolding barrier. In September 1940 (S2) a large rectangular building with at least three entrances or openings on its eastward side is visible at TG 4678 2392. It is barely visible on photographs taken a month earlier (S1), either because it had not yet been constructed or because it was well camouflaged against a vertical view. Immediately to its northeast was a polygonal pillbox, possibly a Type 24, with a probable slit trench on its seaward side. (Two Type 24 pillboxes are recorded at this approximate location in a gazetteer of Norfolk’s defences (S7) and this would make a pair with the surviving Type 24 pillbox (NHER 12843 and below) 45m to its southwest). This structure may have eroded onto the beach by 1946 (S3), where it remained visible in 1953 (S8). To the south (at TG 4679 2391) was a small, possibly circular structure. To the south-west, at TG 4676 2389, a second Type 24 pillbox is visible on aerial photographs taken from 1947 (S4) to the present day (S5); this was presumably constructed during the war and must have been camouflaged on aerial photographs taken in 1946 (S3). While forming part of the larger site described here, this pillbox is also individually recorded as NHER 12843. To the northwest, at TG 4657 2409, a small, possibly square structure can just be made out amongst the dunes on the 1940 aerial photographs. This could have been another pillbox, but whether it equates to the possibly polygonal pillbox recorded at this approximate location (NHER 32647) is not known. It should be noted that this dune area may have been mined during the war, but that unlike the minefields mapped to the northwest (part of NHER 42103) and southeast (part of NHER 42120) this is not clearly visible on the consulted aerial photographs.

Further to the south, at TG 4676 2385 and TG 4678 2379, various smaller structures are visible on the 1940 aerial photographs, most probably comprising huts and tents presumably provided for the personnel manning the site. The location of some of these features is approximate as it was not possible to fully rectify the aerial photographs on which they are visible. By 1946 these structures appear to have been removed but the area was loosely enclosed by a line of barbed wire to its south (first visible on aerial photographs taken in 1944, (S9)). This in turn formed part of a larger area of lightly disturbed ground, the extent of which has been mapped. Further to the south again, at TG 4673 2368, a group of probable slit trenches is visible; these were probably excavated as practice trenches given their apparently non-strategic location. Pits visible to the northwest, at TG 4640 2380 and TG 4636 2393, may have been excavated as weapons pits or may have been craters produced by the explosion of bombs or other ordnance.

Even by 1946 (S3) many of the military structures described above were no longer visible, and on more recent aerial photographs only the Type 24 pillbox (NHER 12843) can be seen. Many of the structures and earthworks were probably removed and levelled before or soon after the end of the war, but others may survive, obscured by vegetation or accumulated sand.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 26 October 2005.

Monument Types

  • ACCOMMODATION HUT? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BARBED WIRE OBSTRUCTION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BEACH DEFENCE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BEACH SCAFFOLDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BOMB CRATER? (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)
  • MINEFIELD? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PILLBOX (TYPE FW3/24) (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PILLBOX (TYPE FW3/24)? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PILLBOX (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PIT (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)
  • 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 2A/BR190 (V) 70-2 18-AUG-1940 (NMR).
<S2>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1940. NMR TG 4623/2-3 (MSO 31022 26/BR14/15 4826-7) 19-SEP-1940.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1634 2108-9 09-JUL-1946 (NMR).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2170 5141-2 26-JUN-1947 (NMR).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Environment Agency. 2002. EA 041 AF/02C/339 7024-5 22-JUL-2002 (EA).
<S6>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-7. Ordnance Survey second edition 25" (1902-7) Sheet XLII. 9. 25".
<S7>Monograph: Bird, C.. 1999. Silent sentinels: the story of Norfolk's fixed defences during the twentieth century.. p 73.
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1953. RAF 540/1005 0145-6 04-FEB-1953 (NMR).
<S9>Vertical Aerial Photograph: USAAF. 1944. US/7PH/GP/LOC298 5021 20-APR-1944 (NMR).

Related records

12843Parent of: World War Two Type 24 pillbox (Monument)
Norfolk County Council logo Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Powered by HBSMR-web and the HBSMR Gateway from exeGesIS SDM Ltd, and mojoPortal CMS
© 2007 - 2024 Norfolk Historic Environment Service