Guernsey Napoleonic era army camp field kitchens found

Trench excavation Image copyright Clifton Antiquarian Club
Image caption Each field kitchen is about 8m (26ft) wide and 1m (3ft) high

An "extremely rare" Napoleonic era army camp kitchen has been discovered on L'Ancresse Common in Guernsey.

The site is believed to the fourth 19th Century British military field kitchen found worldwide, according to members of the Clifton Antiquarian Club.

The four mounds were thought to be from the Bronze Age, but artefacts found in a dig in May told a different story.

Among the items uncovered were a clay pipe and a button that could only have produced in the early 19th Century.

Image copyright Ellie McQueen/Clifton Antiquarian Club
Image caption A drawing of what the field kitchens on L'Ancresse Common might have looked like
Image copyright Clifton Antiquarian Club
Image caption Experts said the button would not have been created before 1800

Dr Donovan Hawley, from the Bristol-based archaeology group, said: "In one of the mounds we found remnants of a clay pipe.

"Luckily there was still enough of that clay pipe, enough evidence to allow us to date it... a maker's initial, which could be traced to a manufacturer in Portsmouth that were making these pipes between 1803 and roughly 1815.

"We found this in one of the burnt areas in the mound, so that was very important to date that mound - it gives us a fairly accurate date. It also indicates where the people who made those mounds might have come from."

The fragment of burnt wood sent for radio carbon dating and the button were also dated to the early 19th Century.

Image copyright Clifton Antiquarian Club
Image caption Members of the Clifton Antiquarian Club and local volunteers carried out the excavation in May
Image copyright Clifton Antiquarian Club
Image caption The clay pipe was created between 1803 and 1815, confirming the site was Napoleonic era

The threat of invasion from France saw Guernsey and the Clos du Valle becoming one island and loophole towers and batteries built around the coast.

At times in the period the island housed 3-4,000 troops, with a population at the time of about 20,000.

Dr Hawley said: "These features seem to be extremely rare around the world.

"In the research we've done so far... we've only discovered three others; in America, Ireland and England.

"Four here intact is probably unique in such a small area... certainly well worth preserving and looking after."

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