BIRCHAM NEWTON: Can you solve the mystery behind World War I trenches?
Historians are appealing for more information on a network of trenches which could be renovated if new campsite plan comes to fruition.
Mystery surrounds a series of trenches, believed to date back to the World War I, which were dug on land near Bircham Newton.
The network appears in aerial photographs taken by the RAF in 1946 and they have the appearance of World War I trenches.
But there are no records for the trenches but it is hoped that Lynn News readers may be able to help solve the mystery.
Landowners Nigel Day and Jonathan Burr are hoping to create a campsite on the land along with restoring the overgrown trenches.
They have submitted an planning application to West Norfolk Council for permission to create 12 pitches, a log cabin and the restoration of the trenches at the woodland and former gravel pit.
The change of use application sets out plans to create nine basic pitches, a camping pod, a tipee and a yurt.
The owners, who have set-up a company called Dreamy Hollow, have learned that the land was once owned by the Hare family. Research has shown that a member of the family was in the military.
The site is also closed to a former RAF base.
Mr Day, who is a former NHS manager, said: “I think it is important to preserve this sort of thing as it is so easy to be detached from history.
“You can read about a man living in mud for months on end but until you get into one of those trenches you can’t imagine that being a home. I think this will bring history alive.
“I would like to see them restored or at least partly by summer 2014 which will be the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.”
The company’s plans for the trenches include using them for war games or historical education.
There may be an opportunity to excavate the trenches during the restoration.
The company is also hoping to create a haven for wildlife in the area.
The pair are looking to remove some of the trees along with restoring a hedgerow.
The site,which had previously been used as a motorbike and 4x4 centre, has been plagued in the past by flytipping and arson.
It is hoped the new development would deter this.
Mr Day and Mr Burr are also hoping the yurt and tipee may be attractive to the glamorous camping or “glamping” market.
He said: “We are hoping to attract a broad range of people.
“Rather than just develop the land regardless, we are going to develop it in an eco-friendly way
“It will be an ideal spot for people to come and enjoy the wildlife.”
Historic environment manager for Norfolk County Council David Gurney is hoping that readers will be able to shed more light on how the trenches came into being.
Mr Gurney said a bayonet, which could have been used between 1907 and 1941, has been found on the land.
Mr Gurney said: “We don’t know if they were dug in World War I, World War II or between the wars.
“They have the appearance of World War I trenches but we don’t know for sure when or why they were dug. I think there’s a bit of a mystery here.”
If anyone has information on the trenches please call reporter Victoria Fear on 01553 817321.
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Weather for King's Lynn
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North