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Wartime pillbox uncovered on Bamburgh beach

The pillbox uncovered on Bamburgh beach is in good condition.

The pillbox uncovered on Bamburgh beach is in good condition.

The tidal surge which caused such devastation earlier this month also uncovered a previously hidden historic site at Bamburgh.

The World War Two pillbox structure had been hidden under the sand dunes and is in excellent condition.

Experts believe it is possible that other sites may have been revealed in this way along the coast.

The devastation caused by the recent huge tidal surge along the east coast of England flooded homes, damaged properties and had a big impact on wildlife.

Another side effect of the surge here in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is to uncover new archaeological sites.

The sand dunes are a remarkable dynamic environment and huge weather events such as the storm on December 5, have the potential to both cover and uncover sites quickly as has happened at Bamburgh.

The shipwreck, dating from around 1768, exposed in the spring has now been completely covered again under a sand bank and the wartime pillbox structure has been exposed due to the high tide undercutting the dune system.

The newly exposed pillbox on Bamburgh beach formed part of a long chain of defensive sites of other pillboxes, gun emplacements, anti-tank blocks and a radar station.

The network of defences was hastily built all over the British Isles in 1940 to prevent an anticipated invasion by Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

The pillboxes along the coast take a variety of shapes and forms from square, rectangular, hexagonal and beehive and usually made from concrete shuttering reflecting the ad-hoc manner in which these buildings were hastily constructed.

The pillbox at Bamburgh, like two others at Dunstan Steads and Dunstanburgh, is constructed of concrete sandbags with the hessian imprint still visible on the individual bags.

Pillboxes were never used, as fortunately, the first line of defence held and the RAF prevented any real chance of a German invasion of Britain.

Almost 28,000 pillboxes were built but it is estimated only about 20% remain.

The Northumberland Coast AONB team would be very interested to hear about any other new sites exposed by the tidal surge and are keen to set up a group of volunteers to monitor known archaeological sites along the coast.

To report new sites or to register as a volunteer email Jessica.turner@northumberland.gov.uk or 01670 622648.

 

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