Broadcast 3 October 2010
In July 2009 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at the site of Norman Cross Camp (NGR 516191 291183, SAM 364539), the first specially constructed prisoner of war camp for the internment of those captured in the Napoleonic Wars of 1793-1815. The camp was opened in 1797, and remained open until 1814. The majority of the buildings were demolished or sold at auction in 1816.
An evaluation comprising nine trenches confirmed the basic layout of the prisoner of war internment centre and provided some detail of its construction and use. A possible Romano-British pit was also located. Evidence suggests that the camp was constructed directly upon the subsoil, creating a buried soil horizon. Further earlier archaeological features may therefore survive beneath the later camp structures.
The outer perimeter of the camp appears to have been a double ditch, separated by a walkway, within a brick built wall. There was also evidence of an earlier timber palisade, mentioned in documentary sources. A number of graves were located in the northern part of the Site. Several of these contained more than one inhumation, although individuals may have been interred in several phases. All the exposed graves were north-south aligned. The cemetery reported (by local tradition) to lie to the west of the A1 was not located.
Evidence illustrating the daily life of prisoners was found in both the artefactual and palaeo-environmental evidence. Personal items including buttons show the range of military affiliations represented amongst the occupants of the camp (British, French and Dutch). In particular the large number of items relating to bone-working on the Site demonstrates the skills of many of the prisoners, who were allowed to make utilitarian and decorative items for sale.