World War I site in France examined by Staffordshire University research


Archaeologists, historians, chemists – including members of Staffordshire University – have researched the Hawthorn crater.The site, near Beaumont Hamel in France, was one of 17 mines exploded by British troops on the morning of July 1, 1916.

It marked the start of the Battle of the Somme offensive – the region has never been scientifically examined by experts.

Fiona Graham, associate professor at the university and presenter on television and radio, said: “It is the first time that someone has the right to discover the secrets of this time capsule which has been dormant for more 100 years old.

“The first day of the Battle of the Somme is undoubtedly one of the most infamous days in British military history. Today, thanks to an unprecedented unique access granted by France, we are discovering new information never seen before.

“The new evidence, images and personal stories discovered create a picture of what happened in more detail in both the first and the last days of the Battle of the Somme.

“Research has revealed how Hawthorn Ridge was used by the German front line as a defense and that there is in fact not just one crater. ”

The site is explored through collaborative work by the Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association with the University of Staffordshire, French communities and British partners.

The Erasmus-funded project was captured on film using narrative and digital archive methods – the team also produced a podcast to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme on July 1.

To listen to the podcast, visit


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