Wartime structure unearthed by tidal surge at Bamburgh Beach

A wartime defence structure has been unearthed by last week's tidal surge which also caused an 18th Century shipwreck to disappear

Jessica Turner The Tidal Surge which caused such devastation last week also uncovered a previously hidden historic site at Bamburgh.
The Tidal Surge which caused such devastation last week also uncovered a previously hidden historic site at Bamburgh.

A Second World War structure has been unearthed by the tidal surge which hit the region last week.

The surge which caused flooding across the North East last Thursday uncovered a wartime pillbox structure in the sand dunes at Bamburgh in Northumberland.

It also caused an 18th Century shipwreck recently exposed at the village beach to disappear once again under the shifting dunes.

The Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership is now appealing for information on any other new historical sites exposed by the tidal surge.

Pillboxes - defence structures - were created at perceived points of weakness along the UK’s coastline during the war amid fears of a German invasion.

They come in a variety of shapes and forms such as square, rectangular, hexagonal and beehive and are usually made from concrete shuttering, such was the ad-hoc manner in which they were hastily constructed.

The North East coast has a number of defensive sites with not only pillboxes but gun emplacements, anti-tank blocks and a radar station.

The new discovery at Bamburgh was unearthed at the foot of a dune as a result of the surge and is said to be in “excellent condition.”

A survey of wartime sites on the county’s coastline was conducted in 2010 and at the time nothing was known of the presence of the pillbox.

The emergence was reported on social media over the weekend by staff at Bamburgh Castle and spotted by Jessica Turner from the AONB Partnership.

The pillbox, like others at Dunstan Steads and Dunstanburgh, is constructed of concrete sandbags with the hessian imprint still visible on each bag.

Jessica said: “Several people have seen it because it is quite a popular walking spot.

“There was a genuine threat. They thought the Germans were going to land so they put pillboxes in places where they thought there was a weakness.

“It is ever changing and quite an interesting coast from an historic point of view.”

The shipwreck which was exposed at Bamburgh in the spring, and has since been found to date from around 1768, is now covered under a sandbank as a result of the surge.

The partnership is appealing for information on any other new sites unearthed by the surge and is hoping to set up a group of volunteers to monitor historic locations along the coast.

Email Jessica.turner@northumberland.gov.uk or phone 01670 622648.

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