Monday, 16 September 2013

Photographs and archaeology at the Messines Model

One of the more well known tales of the Model of Messines on Cannock Chase is the story of its use as a tourist attraction between the wars, when the custodian had a tin hut at one corner of the model and would give tours for a charge of six pence. In fact earlier in the week we had a visit from a gentleman who had taken the tour with his father in the 1930's and a relative of the custodian has made several visits to observe our progress.

Our amateur historians, Lee and Richard have been studying the photographs of the hut and working out where it was situated, by comparison to the existing landscape and the remains of the model as our team uncover them. Careful study of these small images has revealed vital elements of the history of the terrain model.

In one corner we have uncovered a very solid concrete construction and in the top soil close to the banking a small collection of debris including a bucket handle, bottle tops and broken glass, contemporary with the period the hut was in use. There are also traces of what could be the remains of the floor of the hut. Were these concrete blocks added to support the small hut? They are very solid and the presence of two post notches suggest that they may have been reused in situ rather than built for the hut. Perhaps part of a viewing platform for the troops? We know from photographs of the terrain models in Flanders, that they included a raised wooden platform for troops to view the model from above, was a similar arrangement in place here? We hope the archaeology will reveal the answer as we continue to excavate.

If anyone can help answer this question, please get in touch.

For a closer look at the 1930's photos please see

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