Home Guard Auxiliary bunker discovered

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An auxiliary bunker built during the Second World War has been discovered during deforestation work in southern Scotland.

3D scan of the bunker
3D scanning was used to record the bunker [Image: Forestry and Land Scotland by AOC Archaeology 2019]

Hundreds of bunkers like these were constructed by the British Army as operational bases for specially trained Auxiliary Units of the Home Guard, who were responsible for sabotage operations in the event of a Nazi invasion, but structures of this type are rarely discovered, as their exact locations were kept secret and most have collapsed or been buried and lost in the years since their last use. They were supposed to have been destroyed after the war, but many were simply left to decay instead. The entrance to this bunker was discovered during harvesting operations, and was subsequently surveyed by AOC Archaeology on behalf of Forestry and Land Scotland.

The bunker appears to have been built to the standard design, with a central area measuring 7m by 3m formed by riveted corrugated iron sheets over a cement floor. The main chamber was entered through a narrow passage to the east, which leads to an access hatch, while a second escape hatch, at the other end, has now been filled in. The ends of the bunker are brick-built, with poured cement roof caps, and are divided from the main area by a ‘blast wall’ intended to protect against grenades. Ventilation pipes, 32cm in diameter, are found at either end of the structure.

Very little of the bunker’s internal furnishings survive, but broken timbers found on the floor are thought to have perhaps been the remains of the original wooden bed frames. An empty tin can represents another link to the last people to occupy the structure.

The bunker was buried c.1.3m beneath the current ground surface at its deepest point, but the sloping nature of the terrain means that it is only c.0.7m below the ground at the entrance. The structure was surveyed using 3D laser-scanning, as well as comprehensive photography, and a written record of the site was created. After the survey was complete, a grill was installed over the entrance, with bat boxes built inside, to secure the bunker.

This news article appears in issue 360 of Current Archaeology. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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