Secrets of Sherwood Forest's role in Second World War revealed through archaeology and memories

The secrets of Sherwood Forest’s role during the Second World War is being revealed through a fascinating project recording archaeological finds and gathering memories.

By Dale Spridgeon
Thursday, 17th June 2021, 4:30 pm

A Lottery-funded project called the Spirit of Wartime Sherwood has been set up to shed light on the major British military role the world-famous forest played during the war.

The 18-month initiative is being led by conservation charity, The Sherwood Forest Trust, and research company Mercian Archaeological Services – and as part of their work, will be presenting a special event titled Camps, Trenches, Trains and Tanks: WWII Archaeology in Sherwood Forest on June 24.

Mercian previously carried out a pilot project in the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve to record and identify Second World War remains to determine the effective use of data gathering technology and aerial photography.

A military bunker pit being investigated in Sherwood Forest

Now cutting edge technology is to be used alongside historic documentation research, aerial photographs and personal memories to reveal remains of earthworks, buildings and infrastructures and bunkers.

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Sherwood Forest was used by the military as a location for ammunition stores, prisoner of war camps and training.

Trust chief executive officer, Patrick Candler, said: “Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and, with the support of our friends at Mercian Archaeological Services, we’re delighted to host this event for those keen to delve into the past of Sherwood Forest.

Project members measuring one of the areas being investigated for Second World War remains at Budby.

“Understanding events which have shaped its landscape and told its story over the years are crucial. It’s important to gather this information, including memories of those who remember wartime. Many are in their 80s and 90s now, so we don’t want to lose these stories.”

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Surveys are also being used by Mercian to paint a picture of the landscape and detect what might still be hidden underground.

Patrick added: “Only by surveying the area, excavating, and examining items buried for the best part of a century, can we understand the past of Sherwood during what was a community-changing period in its history.

“We want to tell the story of Sherwood Forest which is true to the memories of the people who fought and died for our country and reflects the significant role this poignant forest played in helping the world end such a deadly conflict."

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