29 March 2016: Day 1 of season 3 of the excavation of Lager Wick
Today marked the first day of the third and final season of the excavation of Lager Wick, a forced labour camp in Jersey, used during the German occupation. The project this year is supported by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. The team members for 2016 are me, Dr Gilly Carr (University of Cambridge) as project director; Dr Ivar Schute from RAAP in the Netherlands, who I invited to join the dig because of his experience at other Nazi camp sites, including Westerbork and Sobibor. Mr Peter Masters joins us once again as the dig geophysicist, and we are also joined by Isobel Lloyd, a student volunteer from University of New England in Australia.
Storm Katie disrupted Peter and Isobel’s travel plans, so Ivar and I worked alone today. We focused on the latrine block, which Claudia Theune and I partially cleared last year. The end room within this block was partially flooded (because of all the recent rain) and full of rubble. We cleared quite a bit of it and decided to excavate the left hand side (as you can see). Having excavated the right hand site last year, we were surprised to find no drain or evidence that this end room was a toilet, as previously hypothesised. I wondered if perhaps we’d find a drain or something at the other end, but we found nothing. Ivar and I are still scratching our heads about the function of the room and are trying not to think about having to empty the entire area of mud and rubble and barbed wire in order to be absolutely sure.
We found quite a lot of large lumps of stuff among all the rubble. As I mentioned, there were many strands of barbed wire, but also loads of fragments of water pipe (although no holes to show where it might have gone), a couple of roof tiles, three long metal posts with barbed wire attached, similar to those which can be found around the perimeter of the site; a few pieces of mirror; a door hinge; and my personal favorite: a lump of concrete with a wooden stake emerging from a hole. I think that this was one of those stakes which once had barbed wire attached, and you can see the evidence on 1944 aerial photos of the concrete lumps having been dug up, leaving behind holes. Amazing what archaeologists find to interest them …