Since the Second World War, the POW camp has crumbled, leaving only its foundations behind. [Image credit: University of Sheffield]

Britain’s largest Second World War prisoner-of-war camp, located in the Yorkshire countryside close to Sheffield, was recently brought to light by a team of students and archaeologists from the University of Sheffield. Known as Lodge Moor, the camp detained thousands of foreign prisoners: at its peak in 1944, it held more than 11,000 people, many of whom were from Germany, Italy, and Ukraine.

In the years since the war, the buildings of the camp have crumbled, leaving only the foundations behind. To help preserve this historically important site before it completely succumbed to the forces of nature, the project team – working as part of the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership (SLLP) – carried out a survey of the former camp, which is today located in the middle of a wooded area. This initiative helped map the camp’s layout, taking the first steps toward preserving the site and making it more accessible to the public.

The students also supplemented the archaeological survey with documentary analysis, as well as collecting eye-witness statements, shedding some interesting light on the living conditions within the camp.

Rob Johnson, one of the students who surveyed the site, said: ‘Reading about the living conditions was probably the most striking thing during my research. The prisoner-of-war camp was a very unpleasant place to stay: the prisoners were fed food out of galvanised dustbins, had to stand out in the mud, rain, and cold for several hours a day during roll call, and since it was so overpopulated as a transit camp, they were squashed into tents or the barracks with little personal space.’

To increase awareness of the camp, as well as, it is hoped, to start an initiative to preserve the remains into the future, the students are now bringing their results before the SLLP and Sheffield City Council.


This news article appears in issue 355 of Current Archaeology. To find out more about subscribing to CA magazine, click here.

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