Sussex Military Research Projects

Slit trenches

Project ID: SMR1035

Location: Chailey, East Sussex

Project date: 2017



Description: Chailey Common saw a lot of wartime activity resulting in the construction of a large number of earthwork defences including trench systems.

The most numerous defence work seen are slit trenches to accommodate two or three men either for protection against bombardment or as battle positions. The trenches on the Common were primarily used for training purposes and we were given permission to excavate two of them following some scrub clearence as part of the consrvation plan.

The first excavation was a three-man v-shaped slit trench. The ground in places is quite wet and many of the trenches will flood. Ours was no exception and was baled out before excavation could begin.

The trench edges were established and cleaned up before starting to establish the original depth of the floor. The depth was found to only be about 60cm; this was perhaps due to the problem of flooding, whilst also allowing the trench to be used for training and/or protection from air attack.

A second feature nearby was examined; this proved to be a straight two-man slit trench, again, quite shallow.

Excavation complete, both trenches were recorded and backfilled.

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