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Bomb Craters & Caesar's Toe


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I'm wondering if members can offer up some help in identifying and hypothesizing on bomb craters? I know some of you are young enough to have skipped around the devastation of bombing raids and some of you have served in the RAF and may give me better information than I can glean from countless scientific papers that I'm currently trying to wade my way through?

Due to lockdown and a change in dog walking route I've shifted my attention temporarily away from the Broads to poking my nose into local Lincolnshire history. The site I'm looking at was previously a medieval moated manor. The estate was acquired by Sir Edmund Anderson (1530-1605) in 1599 with a new brick house built by his son in the early 17th century. That house was demolished in 1972 with the site passed to the parish council who now operate it as a public park. 
Lea Hall.jpg

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Lea Park has many walks and opens up onto miles of public footpaths. The terrain ranges from open fields, plantations, fen, marsh and is bounded by the River Trent on one side, the Lincoln railway on the other and is bisected by the Roman road Tillbridge Lane that runs from the Trent to Scampton.

Although there is more than enough archaeology in the park to poke around, my attention has been captured by one particular field outside of the park boundary in which from my first walk I started picking up pieces of pottery ranging from Roman Grey Ware to Roman Samien, Medieval Glazed Wares, Roman and Medieval CBM (Ceramic Building Materials, so roof tiles and floor tiles) along with pieces of air dried clay (complete with finger impressions), debris from Roman kilns and the best find...a toe from a Roman statue!

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The finds range from neolithic flint dumps and scatter to 18th and 19th century field drains with sizeable quantities of Roman and Saxon finds for good measure.

As I start to assess the wider landscape I've run across some modern archaeology in the form of a bomb crater, or what the locals profess to be a bomb crater, which is causing me a problem. It's rectilinear (a rectangle in normal speak) Is this normal? 

Comparing LIDAR information with maps from the 1850's to the 1950's I cannot locate the crater. Marshalls of Gainsborough were producing turrets for bombers, the X-Craft Midget Subs were built here as well as various pumps etc for military use. Despite its importance in engineering, there was little bombing of the town.  Taken from Wikipedia...


"Gainsborough suffered its only large-scale air raid of the war on the night of 10 May 1941. High-explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped, but many fell harmlessly on the surrounding countryside. There was only minor damage in the town and no casualties.

On the night of 28–29 April 1942 a single Dornier 217 dropped a stick of bombs on the town centre, causing extensive damage and the loss of seven lives. On 31 December 1942, a RCAF Bristol Beaufighter aircraft on a training exercise crashed on Noel Street, killing both airmen and a three-year-old girl. On 22 May 1944 a RAF Spitfire fighter, in a training exercise, collided with a Wellington bomber and crashed into a Sheffield-bound goods train as it was passing over the railway bridge on Lea Road. The pilot was the only casualty.

In the early hours of 5 March 1945 a single Junkers 88 fighter/bomber made a low-level attack over the town, dropping anti-personnel bombs on Church Street and the surrounding residential area. Three people lost their lives and 50 houses were damaged."

A little more research and I did discover that Lea Marshes to the north east of the site had an application to the Ministry of Ag & Fish to 'extend a bombing range' dated 1947-50. However, circular depressions visible on the LIDAR which at first I thought could be bomb craters are noted on maps from the 1850s and are I think could be ponds and in one instance a round barrow.
Bomb Crater Lidar and Mapping.png

I'll try and snag some images of the crater on this evenings dog walk. I will try and plot a possible route of the aircraft from the alignment of the crater.

Any help much appreciated!

 

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well from some local knowledge and knowing they would have been targeting the rail gun stored in the railway tunnel at bishopsbourne, I have found you some examples of what i believe would be lines of bombs dropped in kent, the tunnel in question would have been just to the right of this area, it was a defence gun and because of the curve of the track just out of the tunnel could cover from ramsgate round to dover against invasion, these lidar images show what i believe were a stick of bombs (well several) some of the craters have quite odd shapes. in the fields these can be seen because the chalk beneath has been brought up into the soil creating a lighter surface.

the second image is a half and half from a particularly large bomb near my mother in laws, the trees have grown in the bomb crater.

anywhere in kent is a good study area for bomb craters, especially between canterbury and the coast as all the bombers used to dump any un dropped bombs in this area before heading back across the channel after raids on London or Canterbury.

craters.PNG

craters 2.PNG

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a more rectangular shaped crater would occur if two bombs landed in close proximity exploding almost simultaneously, yet these clear near misses of the tunnel mouth showing on the 1940 image on google earth, can no longer be seen on lidar

And the other nearby ones previously shown were in woodland so dont show on the historical aerial shots (or were post 1940)

craters 3.PNG

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Fortunately, Holyhead didn’t suffer that much from bomb damage during WW2, despite being a target. What remained of the Dutch Navy were stationed there. The church hall received a direct hit one evening, luckily a couple of hours after it had been packed for a dance. Less lucky were a few houses that did get direct hits.

On a morning following an air raid my maternal Nain (Gran) went to town as usual. She had a momentary shock, before realising that the ‘bodies’ lying in the road were from the tailors outfitter’s windows.

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my mother in laws house still has the cracks in the plaster from the practice firing of the rail gun, residents were all warned before practice firing to open their windows so they werent shattered, as far as i know only a few practice rounds were ever fired.

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There quite often doesn't need to be a reason for a bomb crater, if you've still got some left over from a raid, you just get rid of them over the enemy on the way home.

Just about every village in Norfolk was hit in some way as aircraft dropped remaining loads on their way home..

Also if you've come under attack , you might drop them and make your aircraft lighter and easier to manoeuver.

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2 hours ago, TheQ said:

There quite often doesn't need to be a reason for a bomb crater, if you've still got some left over from a raid, you just get rid of them over the enemy on the way home.

Just about every village in Norfolk was hit in some way as aircraft dropped remaining loads on their way home..

Also if you've come under attack , you might drop them and make your aircraft lighter and easier to manoeuver.

most of kent was in bomb alley where they dropped them on the way home.

but particularly the area from canterbury to the coast

 

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Rain...perfect chance to consolidate the finds and start the mapwork and find plotting in earnest. A visit to the bomb crater with tape measure and survey equipment reveals that it is indeed a bomb crater. A big bomb crater! A perusal of the handy wartime government handbook 'Bomb Reconnaissance and Protection Against Unexploded Bombs (1942)' gives a handy reference between crater size and depth and the size of bomb. 

50 KG8-12 ft (2.4 - 3.6m)2-5 ft (0.6 - 1.5m)

100 KG20-30 ft (6-9.1m)7-10 ft (2.1-3m)

250 KG24-36 ft (7.3-11m)10-12 ft (3-3.7m)

500 KG30-40 ft (9.1-12.2m)10-16ft (3-4.9m)

The crater is 38 ft in diameter and approximately 14 feet deep (deeper if you allow for modern deposits in the bottom). The crater itself is indeed round, but there appears to have been a slot cut into the crater from the adjacent field where I picking up Roman archaeology. I took some photographs from the lip of the crater but the perspective is not brilliant and doesn't highlight the depth of the blast hole.

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I've finally managed to get the missing LIDAR data for the area and composited the images.
Field Full LIDAR.png
Quite a few anomalies for me to stick my nose into when the weather stops leaking. Before the heavens opened this morning I did find something 'odd' in the western half of the field. A circular object about the size of a Burton's Wagon Wheel (before they made the things smaller).
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Found in situ alongside two pieces of medieval pottery, it has a hole through the centre and is made of ferrous metal. Quite heavy for its size. Any ideas what it could be?

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On 03/05/2021 at 17:11, Timbo said:

Found in situ alongside two pieces of medieval pottery, it has a hole through the centre and is made of ferrous metal. Quite heavy for its size. Any ideas what it could be?

Did MM lose a mudweight?

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7 hours ago, Timbo said:

I have an identification for the metal disc. It's a spindle whorl!

 

yes, though I have never seen a metal one. do you have a date for it? I have Viking connections that would be interested if it dates to then.

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On 08/05/2021 at 18:09, grendel said:

yes, though I have never seen a metal one. do you have a date for it? I have Viking connections that would be interested if it dates to then.

As with much of the site I'm looking at G, although I made the find in context with early medieval pottery shards I also picked up Roman and Medieval CBMs but also the neck from a stoneware ginger beer bottle...a early good old R Whites...in close proximity. So for dating by context it could be anything from 2nd Century to 16th Century excluding the ginger beer drinking time traveller.

There are similar pattern metal spindle whorls in the V&A collections but as I'm slowly cleaning the find, wooden toothpick stage at the moment, the more I clean the more I'm leaning away from the finds officer's identification. I think its a loom weight myself. That's what I thought it was when I first saw it. The central hole is elongated as though it has been hung vertically. Judging from the weight of the thing it must have a lead or lead alloy core.

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One cheeky Herbert told me on Friday, 'amateurs like you have to realize that there's more to archaeology than they see on Time Team. It takes several years to get a degree in archaeology you know!'. If they hadn't have told me, I would never have known! 

My next line of inquiry will be to weigh the thing using good old 'lbs' as the scale. Although the cheeky Herbert did inform me that 'we use the metric system these days'. Fun fact for the metricated (and cheeky Herbert), the reason that the abbreviation for weight in 'pounds' is 'lbs' is that the 'pound' is a Roman measure of weight and 'lbs' is an abbreviation of 'libra' the Roman pound. 'All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?'.

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3 hours ago, Timbo said:

I think its a loom weight myself. That's what I thought it was when I first saw it. The central hole is elongated as though it has been hung vertically. Judging from the weight of the thing it must have a lead or lead alloy core.

having used a warp weighted loom (probably one of a handful of people in this day and age who has), i can testify that you do need a fair weight for these, we made my weights from clay and had to supplement the weights with leather bags of pebbles, of course one would expect to find several in a line if they were still on the loom, but then who would leave an unfinished piece of cloth on the loom, it would represent a considerable amount of work, so how did they store loom weights between jobs?  i worked 10 threads to a weight, and they just get tied on in a chain knot with the spare thread hanging from the weight, as you wind the cloth onto the top beam you lower the weights again for a longer warp, this way you can weave several yards at a time.                    

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a spindle whorl should have a tapered hole for the stick going through, and really doesnt need to be that heavy unless spinning linen, as it wont support the untwisted thread, spindle whorls will be ounces, loom weights pounds.

and before you ask, yes i have used a drop spindle, as well as a spinning wheel too.

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