Sussex Military Research Projects

Anti-tank block excavation

Project ID: SMR1028

Location: Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

Project date: 2015



Project Overview: Cuckmere Haven

Working with the authorities, excavations were conducted at a number of sites in the valley, including pillboxes and anti-tank obstacles.

Description: Excavation of a displaced and partly buried anti-tank block in order to record wartime graffiti from 1940.

One of the anti-tank obstacles at Cuckmere Haven comprised lines of concrete blocks, known as cubes or dragon's teeth. Cubes were designed to impede the passage of tanks from the beach inland, either by being an outright deterrent or by causing the tank to belly itself trying to drive over the line.These cubes are about 1.4m square with a built-up apex. A line of about 20 can still be seen stretching from the path to the river mouth of the eastern side of the valley, to the river bank.

We were given permission to excavate a solitary cube that had been displaced and was lying on its side a few metres away from the eastern end of the line.

The reason for wanting to excavate this particular block was because it appeared to have some graffiti etched into the top surface, which was obscured by earth. One corner of the cube appeared to be missing, so we were hoping to resolve why this was the case.

The excavation proved to be quite simple; after a couple of hours the top and one side of the block had been exposed. Being right beside a footpath, several hundred people passed by, many stopping to try and work out what it was that we were doing!

As the top surface was revealed, graffiti began to appear; brushing and washing helped remove the mud and so the landscape began talking to us.

After the block had been photographed and recorded, the trench was backfilled.

Photograph gallery