Britain at Low Tide: S2, E2 Dorset

A bit of extra info, with links, in case you want to delve a bit deeper into the stories featured in Episode Two of Britain at Low Tide, Series Two.

This particular episode was fun, but also very moving to film. It’s a funny feeling, because from the safe distance of 2018, it is all to easy to get caught up in the excitiment of a Girls Own adventure — I got to ride in a tank! And go out on a boat! And explore beneath the waves with a remotely operated submersible!

And then it hits you: the reality of war. People died. And their loved ones didn’t know why, or when, or where. FOR OVER FIFTY YEARS.

Thankfully, people like John Pearson exist. He’s not just a tank enthusiast, though I am glad he is that too (thanks for the tank ride, John!): he was he was responsible for placing the plaque at Fort Henry commemorating the six men who died in Exercise Smash. For the first time, family members like Joan Brunt, the widow of Arthur Parks, had a memorial for their loved ones where they could mourn their passing.

So lets just take a moment to remember those who died on the 4th April 1944:

  • Sergeant V. Hartley
  • Corporal Arthur J. Park
  • Corporal V. N. Townson
  • Trooper A. Kirkby
  • Trooper E. G. Petty
  • Lieutenant C. R. Gould

Just six names amongst the tens of millions of people who died worldwide in the second world war. But worth remembering nonetheless.


Next week we are across the border on the River Clyde, where we lark around in the mud investigating how a river as ridiculously shallow as the Clyde ended up becoming the shipyard for some of the world’s largest ships… and get scorched uncovering the secrets of a mysterious crannog — 8pm, 3rd March, Channel 4.

And don’t forget, if you want to get involved in coastal archaeology CITiZAN have loads of opportunities:


Valentine Duplex Drive tanks weren’t actually used in D-Day. Instead, by the time the 6th June 1944 came around, enough of the bigger and better (it didn’t have to have it’s gun turret spun around in the wrong direction while afloat..) Sherman Tanks had been modified to duplex drive, with the characteristic canvas skirts. Valentines continued to be used for training, and also saw active service in Italy 1945.




CITiZAN volunteers at work recording the Sea Plane Lighter in the mud of Poole Harbour


Britain at Low Tide: S2, E1 East Sussex

Some handy links and info if you want to delve a bit deeper into the stories featured in Episode One of Britain at Low Tide, Series Two.

If you missed Episode One, East Sussex, catch up here:

Next week we are in sunny Dorset, where we investigate some sunken tanks that helped change the military strategy for D-Day (no biggy), and an enigmatic and ancient structure submerged in Poole Harbour — 8pm, 24th February, Channel 4.

And don’t forget, if you want to get involved in coastal archaeology CITiZAN have loads of opportunities:





  • Here is the CITiZAN report on their work at Pett Level:
  • And here are some really interesting papers on the ancient environment at Pett Level, and the complex task of reconstructing and understanding sea level change:
    • Long, A. J. and Waller, M. P. and Stupples, P. (2006) ‘Driving mechanisms of coastal change : peat compaction and the destruction of late Holocene coastal wetlands.’, Marine geology., 225 (1-4). pp. 63-84. [pdf]
    • Waller et al. (1998), Flandrian Sedimentation and Palaeoenvironments in Pett Level, the Brede and Lower Rother Valleys and Walland Marsh [pdf]
  • And a nice summary of the local geology and landscape of the coastline between Hastings and Pett: Robinson and Wilson, THE HIGH WEALD COAST FROM HASTINGS TO PETT: Classic Landforms of The Weald, Landform Guide No. 4 pp 39 – 43 [pdf]

Medieval ship graffiti in the Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Winchelsea


Gus and I were shown the Ship Graffiti in St Thomas’, Winchelsea by Natalie Cohen of the National Trust/Museum of London. Winchelsea is a remarkable town, and it’s history — and how fundamental ships were to it — is something we that we just didn’t have time to do justice to.

But if you want to know more, I heartily recommend reading Thomas Dhoop’s PhD thesis Shaped by Ships and Storms: A Maritime Archaeology of Medieval Winchelsea [Volume 1 and Volume 2]



Britain at Low Tide is BACK!

Britain at Low Tide is back for a new series! Six whole episodes, airing over six weeks, of archaeological and historical goodness (and the odd bit of geology I managed to squeeze in under the radar), starting 8pm, Saturday 17th February, on Channel 4.  And it’s all bathed in glorious sunshine (well, mostly…) to banish the damp, drear days of never-ending winter.

This series, Gustav, Charlotte, Oliver and I are visiting the shorelines of East Sussex (Episode 1, 17th Feb), Dorset (Episode 2, 24th Feb), The Clyde (Episode 3, 3rd March), The Severn (Episode 4, 10th March), East Yorkshire (Episode 5, 17th March), and Fife (Episode 6, 24th March).

We have shipwrecks, lost harbours, sunken tanks, enigmatic structures, incredible feats of Bronze Age engineering, crannogs, beacons, Bob Dylan, medieval graffiti, Pictish cave art, ancient forests, ferries, trains, and seaplanes (and their lighters). Do watch!

Get involved…

As with the first series, Britain at Low Tide is all about how YOU can help to preserve our coastal heritage. As well as continuing to work with CITiZAN (download their archaeology app here), we teamed up with Scottish public archaeology initiative SCHARP. Both these projects are doing great work recording, investigating and — where possible — preserving the archaeology of our foreshore. And if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at archaeology, both SCHARP and CITiZAN have loads of opportunities to get your boots mucky…