Mystery continues to surround the Stiffkey pill box

18:08 24 September 2014

Steven Bashforth at the Stiffkey Pill Box excavation. Picture: Ian Burt

Steven Bashforth at the Stiffkey Pill Box excavation. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

An excavation has tried to uncover the secrets of a possible First World War site on a popular coastal walk.

Archeologists have been examining a pill box at Stiffkey with the hope of finding out how it has been used since it was first built.

The structure’s origin is a subject of debate as although most believe it to date from the Great War, some say it was built during the Second World War.

Angus Wainright, National Trust archeologist for the East of England, said: “There is a bit of mystery surrounding it as some people have said that it is from the Second World War so we are hoping to find something that will give us the answer.

“It doesn’t look like it was tall enough to stand up in which is a bit strange as it would not be nice to lie in the wet sand for a day.

“It is quite unlike others in that it faces inwards towards the coast.

“The apertures are wider than you would expect so it is more like an observation point than a defensive point.

“Perhaps it was there to see people who had landed at Wells or the Creakes and were moving inland along the coast.

“Stiffkey has a nice beach to land on but then you have the salt marsh to traverse.”

While the excavations failed to find anything conclusive about the structure’s origins a number of items were uncovered.

Among items found during the two excavations were ammunition cartridges, including .303 rifle casings, and old coins.

It is not yet known if the rounds date back to the First World War as soldiers were camped nearby during the Second World War and may well have used the box.

There are a number of pill boxes dotted along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, an echo from a time when the threat of a sea-borne invasion seemed very real.

Mr Wainright said: “I think there are about 35 known First World War pill boxes in Norfolk.

“There was quite a lot of protection put in at Great Yarmouth and along the coast.

“If there was going to be an invasion they thought the Germans would land in Norfolk and Suffolk. There are lots of sandy beaches and so on.”

The project is being carried out in conjunction with a local historical society as well as a Norfolk County Council archeologist.

The team are planning to return to discover when the box was built and repairs will e carried out to the structure.

Do you have any information about the origins of the Stiffkey pill box? Write to Doug Faulkner at


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