Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Of maps and men

Yesterday we had our chum Peter Chasseaud visit. Peter is the foremost expert on the maps of the Great War as well as the Plug Street Project's artist in residence. He had brought some maps over and a selection of aerial photographs that are the fruits of his labours in the photographic collection at the Imperial War Museum.

The photos seem to show a British line that doesn't alter much but a German line that is constantly being strengthened and refortified. Until the 28th June 1917 AP that is. The Ultimo mine has clearly shattered the line and spread its upcast across the trenches, it was also possible to see hints of the refortification done by Anzac 3 Div. The picture was taken a fortnight after the mine was blown and shows how it became part of the fortifications. We know from written accounts that the Australians had practiced this type of work on Salisbury Plain (the British Army's main training ground) and have seen the crater there but it's interesting to see trenches. Digging might show what they actually did. We couldn't look closely at the crater here in UK because it has badgers living in it and they are protected by law!

Anyway thanks to Peter. Now we look forwards to Birger's results - he is our Belgian partner who is studying air photos of the front for his PhD.

By way of thanks to Peter we took him out to see some of our archaeology on the Plain, including some lovely practice trenches on Beacon Hill and some rather nice hillforts and burial mounds (we know how to entertain!).

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