Digital fly-through of a WW1 crater


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Wisniewski, KD, Doyle, P, Hunter, RJS, Pringle, JK, Stimson, IG, Wright, D, Squires, K, Sutherland, Z, Cassella, JP, Graham, FC and Ottey, P Digital fly-through of a WW1 crater.
From a multidisciplinary scientific Investigation of the 1916 Hawthorn Mine Crater, Beaumont Hamel, Somme, Northern France,. Hawthorn Crater is a prominent feature of the former Somme battlefield near Beaumont Hamel, Northern France. It resulted from the detonation of what is arguably the most famous of the nine mines that the British had prepared below the German lines on 1 July 1916, as part of the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. This mine is culturally significant as its detonation was captured on film in real time by cinematographer Geoffrey Malins when it was exploded, controversially, ten minutes before Zero Hour. Despite this, the crater has not been studied scientifically to date, as it remained in private hands until relatively recently. Purchase of the land by the Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association, with the aim of maintaining and improving access to the site has permitted detailed study of the site. This paper documents three separate field seasons of multi-disciplinary site investigations, showcasing the methods used, results found, and implications for other conflict archaeology investigation studies. Methods used included: remote sensing, drones, ground-based-LiDAR and surface surveys, near-surface geophysical techniques (conductivity, resistivity and magnetics) and limited archaeological intrusive investigations. Results found that the crater could clearly be characterised, consisting of two sub-craters associated with separate mine explosions on 1 July 1916 and 13 November 1916, the beginning and end of the Battle of the Somme. Geophysical magnetic anomalies were investigated intrusively identifying them as: still-intact fire pits, barbed wire, and other equipment associated with the incorporation of the crater into the German frontline after the initial explosion. Still visible within the crater are post-explosion shell holes; consistent with British shellfire from the west. This study provided a rare opportunity to investigate a First World War mine crater of this magnitude, documenting its form and development, and highlighting the fact that modern scientific survey techniques can assist the detection and characterisation of these globally important archaeological sites.
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