Skipton gardens dug up in hunt for WWI camp

  • Published
Digging in a Skipton garden
Image caption,
The dig sees students and archaeologists searching for traces of a World War One camp

Gardens have been dug up in an archaeological search for the remains of a World War One camp.

Raikeswood Camp, in Skipton, North Yorkshire, was built as a training base for the soldiers of the Bradford Pals in 1915 and became a prisoner of war camp in 1918.

After 900 German officers left in 1919 it was gradually covered by houses.

Now school students and archaeologists are carrying out small-scale digs in residents' gardens.

A team of 20 students and 10 professional archaeologists are involved.

Nina Wardleworth, who agreed to a pit being dug in her garden, said: "Whatever turns up will be very interesting. It really makes history come alive."

Image source, SkiptonPOW
Image caption,
German prisoners from the camp made sketches which they smuggled out and published when they returned home

Rob Freeman, a project officer with the dig, said small square pits would be dug as part of a "keyhole excavation".

"Skipton was very much a garrison town during World War One and we've had a lot of interest from residents," he said.

A further archaeological dig on the only undeveloped strip of land on the site has also taken place.

A number of military artefacts were found in previous digs including a trench whistle and German army belt clasp.

Prisoners who had kept diaries and sketches in captivity managed to smuggle their work out of the camp and published a book about their experiences when they returned to Germany.

A copy of the book found its way to Skipton Library but lay forgotten and was not translated until 2015.

Image source, Bradford WW1 Group

Pals battalions

  • Formed in World War One as friends and colleagues enlisted together and many were formed in northern towns
  • The first Bradford Pals battalion was raised at the Bradford Mechanic's Institute in 1914
  • The Bradford Pals were among thousands of soldiers that advanced into the Battler of the Somme in 1916
  • The first day of the battle is the most disastrous single day ever experienced by the British army, with almost 20,000 men killed

Source: BBC

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