Day 2 (30 March): Latrine or potato store?

Today the cat was put firmly among the pigeons when our investigation of the latrine end of the ablutions block revealed no evidence that there was ever a latrine there! If the latrine was indeed a latrine, we should have found a drain, or waste pipe and a hole in the wall of the structure. But we found only a solid floor and walls. This means that we need to rethink not just the function of the end room, but even the function of the whole structure. If the room was used for storage, for example, what might have been stored in an ablutions block? Perhaps a better question (prompted by Ivar) is: if this was, for example, a potato store, what, then, was the function of the whole structure? Perhaps the area that we securely identified last year as a washing area (complete with drain, drainage channel and water trough / shower area (we don’t know which as whatever it was was ripped out of the ground) was actually a food preparation area / kitchen? I don’t think that it was a cookhouse as there’s no evidence of an oven. But last year we found so many bathroom-type objects in the building, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, medicine, etc, that now I’m rather confused. There is one other option: it is possible that the rooms of this three-room structure were not part of the same thing. We don’t know where the partition wall was between the first two rooms and it may not have been possible to move between them. Was one a wash-room and the other two some kind of food storage room only? Does the presence of large numbers of whelks and limpets in the second and third rooms last year back up the idea of a kitchen? If anybody else has any other ideas about the use for the room, please leave a comment and let me know!

Day 2 latrine block (4)

Ivar and Isobel excavating the end room of the latrine block

We also opened up an extension to trench 5, which last year revealed so many great objects. Murphy’s law dictated that we found very little, but just as we were scratching our heads at finding almost nothing but hoggin (compacted grit and stones), Ivar found a fractured sewage pipe, almost intact, 3 foot 6 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. Of course, the key question is: does it belong to the camp? We all think so, but of course it doesn’t have ‘1943’ stamped on it, so this is only conjecture. It didn’t line up with the modern drain cover on the road outside the camp, which also possibly backs this up. But where is the sewage coming from? It’s quite close to the latrine block, which moves interpretation a little further in the direction of it being a latrine block.

Day 2 trench 5b (11).JPG

Ivar revealing the sewage pipe

While the sewage pipe may not seem as sexy as the mug with the eagle and swastika that I found last year, it tells us a little more about camp infrastructure and layout. But that doesn’t mean that the archaeology gods can’t also leave us another Nazi mug to find tomorrow.

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About Gilly Carr

I am a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education. I work in the field of conflict archaeology and POW archaeology, and my fieldwork is based in the Channel Islands.

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