Exporting segregation, integrating communities: Tyntesfield WW2 site

David Robinson, with James Dixon (University of the West of England), Rebecca Kellawan (University of Bristol), Leah Arnold (University of Bristol), Phil Rowe (University of Bristol), and Sean Caveille (University of Bristol) in collaboration with the National Trust at Tyntesfield

Research here investigates the remains of an unidentified World War II facility found on the National Trust property, Tyntesfield estate, Somerset. The physical remains in Watercatch field represent are still remembered by people of whom some are still living at an advanced age: collaborators Kallewan and Arnold have both explored the issue of archaeology at the margins of memory in relation to this site. Their findings show that individuals often have divergent, perhaps even contradictory memories of the function and purpose behind the facilities in the field—even after initial mapping conjoined with exhaustive documentary and oral history research, the site’s history and function remains ambiguous and unclear. Kallewan and Arnold’s research have pointed out a series of ambiguities and tensions in both basic and wider understandings for the site that prompt the following questions: Who built it? Was it a hospital, prison, vehicle facility, or combination of those? Was it a site of segregation, either with African American troops, Native Americans, or even prisoners-of-war? When was the site demolished?

Certainly this is an under-explored issue as the archaeology of World War II is an emergent sub discipline lying tenuously at the boundary between ‘traditional’ historical archaeology and its recent offshoot, contemporary archaeology, loosely the archaeology of the post-war period up to the present day. Therefore a programme of archaeological investigation incorporating survey and excavation will help address basic issues such as site chronology, occupancy, and function while also rethinking larger concepts such as ethnic affiliation, segregation of space, and the boundaries of memory through an integrative community archaeology project.

Further links

Tyntesfield Project page (.pdf, 820MB)

Archaeology Research Group