Record Details

NHER Number:15994
Type of record:Monument
Name:World War Two pillbox


A World War Two pillbox stands upside down on Happisburgh beach. Aerial photographs taken in 1941 show that it was originally located on the cliff top. Later photographs demonstrate that it fell onto the beach between September 1965 and April 1968, presumably as a result of cliff erosion. As of 2020 the pillbox is almost completely buried due to the deposition of dredged material in the area.


  • An upside-down World War Two pillbox that originally stood on the cliff top before falling onto the beach  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TG 3812 3126
Map Sheet:TG33SE

Full description

Pillbox; concrete, octagonal.
Now upside down on beach, fallen from cliff.
Visited by E. Rose (NAU), 2 April 1980.

Photograph in (S1).

See (S2) in file, who adds: Fairly common 1940 type 22A pillbox in a rare position upside down on beach. Foundation raft clearly shown.
D. Walker (NLA), August 1996.

September 2004. Norfolk NMP.
A World War Two type 22 pillbox is visible on aerial photographs ((S3) to (S7)). The grid reference previously given for this pillbox (TG 3826 3117) is wrong and did not reflect either its original or present position. The new grid reference, for the original position of the pillbox on the cliff top, is TG 3812 3126. This pillbox was not shown on aerial photographs dating to September 1940 (S8) but had been constructed by July 1941 (S2). Oblique aerial photographs from August 1941 clearly show that it had been camouflaged with a low pitched roof (S4). It was still in position on the cliff top in September 1965 (S5) but had fallen to the beach by April 1968 (S6). The present location on the beach of the inverted pillbox is 11m northeast of its original cliff top position (S7).
J. Albone (NMP), 8 September 2004.

May-November 2004. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey.
Inter-tidal survey (Environmental Zone 19), Context 482:
A type 22 pillbox was monitored. It was upside down on the beach at TG 38134 31295, between the modern breakwater and the cliff.
See assessment report (S9) for further details.
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.421).
J. Allen (NLA), 26 April 2005. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 20 July 2019.

November 2020. Field Observation.
The upside down pillbox is no longer visible on Happisburgh beach.
This observation is confirmed by (S10), which shows the pillbox was visible in winter 2019 but almost competely buried by winter 2020 due to redeposited material added as part of the wider beach nourishment taking place in the area.
E. McDonald (HES), 8 March 2021.

Monument Types

  • PILLBOX (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Thesis: Healy, F. 1978. The Neolithic in Norfolk.
<S2>Recording Form: [various]. Norfolk Defensive Structures Survey Recording Form. Norfolk Defensive Structures Survey.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF S/330 3-4 16-JUL-1941 (NMR).
<S4>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. NMR TG 3831/4 (MSO 31255 S378/H50 52) 07-AUG-1941.
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1965. MAL 65080 140-1 19-SEP-1965 (NMR).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1968. OS/68083 120-1 25-APR-1968 (NMR).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Environment Agency. 2002. EA 040 AF/02C/339 6982-3 22-JUL-2002 (EA).
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1940. NMR TG 3830/31 (MSO 31022 26/BR14/15 4864) 19-SEP-1940.
<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.
<S10>Unpublished Document: Gibbons, J. Happisburgh Beach Pillbox Winter 2019 to Winter 2020.

Related records - none

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