Students see history uncovered at visit WWI practice trenches

History students from Outwood Academy Bydales got a glimpse of their local area’s past with a visit to an archaeological right on their doorstep.

  • 21 July 2021

Sofia and Dogger Bank C archaeological works provide history lesson for local students

History students from Outwood Academy Bydales in Marske-by-the Sea got a glimpse of their local area’s past recently with a visit to an archaeology dig being carried out for two giant offshore wind energy projects.

Twenty students from the school’s Year 8 cohort had to walk only 200 metres from their school to see the World War I practice trenches uncovered by Durham University’s Archaeological Services (DUAS) as part of the wind farms’ pre-construction survey activity.

The excavation and recording work is being carried out for Sofia and Dogger Bank C, separate offshore wind energy projects both sited on Dogger Bank with landfall sited between Marske-by-the-Sea and Redcar, near the site of the dig.

Archaeologists from Durham University talked to students about the archaeological works on the site, why they are necessary for an offshore wind farm and how the information is recorded and analysed.

Their history teacher Gemma Green was able to give them details about why the more-than-100 year old trenches were there and the wider historical context. During WWI, the area was an airfield, set up as a ‘finishing school’ for pilots to learn combat flying.

The site near the landfall is now a modern housing estate known as The Landings, with streets named after people and aircraft connected with World War II, despite the airfield not being used during that conflict.

Archaeologist Peter Carne said: “It is great that these offshore wind projects provided the opportunity to uncover the remains of WWI in the area, and we are really pleased that local children have been able to visit and see for themselves.”

Gemma Green, who accompanied the children to the site said: “What an opportunity to witness WW1 history on our doorstep! We usually associate trenches with Northern France and Belgium but this gave our students and staff the chance to uncover that soldiers practiced digging trenches here in Marske before heading to the Western Front. This really brought history to life”.

Sofia is owned by RWE Renewables while Dogger Bank C is owned 50/50 by SSE Renewables and Equinor. They are separate projects but working closely together due to the proximity of their onshore electrical infrastructure. The archaeology work has been led by Sofia on behalf of both projects.