Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Digging Up The Dirt at Bucklers Hard

From Saturday 14th July to Sunday 22nd July an archaeological excavation will be taking place at Buckler’s Hard as part of the Festival of British Archaeology 2012.
The dig, managed by Wessex Archaeology in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, will focus on exploring World War II activity on the Buckler’s Hard waterfront, and will be undertaken by volunteers under the supervision of the New Forest National Park Authority Archaeologist.

Members of the public are invited to watch and can even join in and try their hand at archaeological excavation. All the necessary equipment will be provided, and there will be professional guidance and onsite training available for those who haven’t done any excavation work before.

It is hoped that the dig will establish the presence of World War II activity through the digging of several trenches, survey work on the concrete slipway and waterfront, finds processing and recording work.

Buckler’s Hard is an 18th century shipbuilding village on the banks of the Beaulieu River, where ships for Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar were built. It is well-documented that during World War II the village played a strategically important role. Initially, the concrete slipway was installed so Buckler’s Hard could be used as a repair and service centre for motor torpedo boats. However, as the war progressed, the village became the base for ‘Operation Quicksilver’ – a deception plan in which dummy landing craft were built for mooring on rivers and harbours in the south-east to fool the Germans into thinking any invasion would take place in the area around Calais. Segments of ‘Mulberry Harbour’ were also built there, and Buckler’s Hard was used as a major departure point during the D-Day landings.

The excavation activities will run daily from 9am – 4pm, with refreshments available to purchase from the Captain’s Cabin Tearooms and the Yachtsman’s Bar at the Master Builder’s House Hotel. Members of the public who wish to watch or join in with the dig will be required to pay admission to the Buckler’s Hard visitor attraction and can park for free in the Visitor Car Park.

Admission to Buckler’s Hard includes entry to the Maritime Museum, which tells the story of Buckler’s Hard from its early beginnings as a failed sugar port, through its heyday as an 18th century shipbuilding centre, to its role during the war years. For more information, please visit

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