Hoping to uncover the secrets of the war in Doncaster

Volunteers at the dig site.
Volunteers at the dig site.

Hoping to uncover Doncaster’s wartime history beneath our feet is a team of archaelogists.

As part of Doncaster 1914-18. a four-year project which aims to build a picture of life in the borough during the World War I conflict, a two-week long live dig has commenced behind the grounds of St Peter-in-Chains Church.

The team of archaeologists are using high-tech equipment to work out where to dig trenches during their excavations, hoping to uncover the lost First World War training ground and military barracks of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, hidden beneath our feet.

A spokesman said: “It’s the first time that the site will ever have been surveyed in this way. Doncaster was one of Yorkshire’s largest training grounds during World War One – with over 4,000 local men signing up after Lord Kitchener’s famous call, but we know so little about the lives of the soldiers who made such a personal contribution. This is what the dig is hoping to uncover.”

The archaeologists are being helped by local volunteers.

Project manager, Dr Glyn Davies of ArcHeritage, which has been commissioned to undertake the dig, added: “The dig site offers a fantastic opportunity for those with an interest in history to work on a real archaeological dig. The site is the location of the former Scarbrough Barracks; these were built shortly after World War I, but prior to this the site was used for military training during the war, so we are hoping to find evidence of what activities were carried out here.

“A recent dig at what is now the new cultural quarter revealed practice trenches excavated by soldiers training. We don’t know if they were undertaking similar training in trenching on the barracks site but the excavation provides us with the opportunity to find out.”

Father Augustine O’Reilly of St Peter in Chain’s Church added: “We are supportive of this project and I hope it will be productive and the knowledge gained may be a source of great inspiration to future generations.”