Coal – press release

New data may reveal World War One practice trenches

Previously unrecorded World War One practice trenches are thought to have been discovered by the Coal Authority in Derbyshire, England.

Data from the Coal Authority may have revealed previously unrecorded World War One practice trenches used by soldiers as a battlefield near Buxton, Derbyshire. The features were discovered as part of the Authority’s research and development programme, which is looking at alternative ways to inspect mine entries in remote and rural areas.

The Authority asked Bluesky, specialists in aerial surveys, to map the area with their airborne mapping system LiDAR. The LiDAR system uses lasers mounted onto aircraft to work out the distance between the sensor and the ground, or other targets such as buildings and vegetation.

English Heritage was consulted by the Coal Authority on the project, as the statutory advisor on the historic environment.

Phil Broughton, Project Manager (Research and Development and Mine Entry Inspections), Coal Authority, said:

“Our team has inspected 103,000 mine entries in Britain since 2008 under our remit to protect the public and environment in coal mining areas. Most of the remaining mine entries to be inspected are in remote or rural locations, and we’re looking at innovative ways to carry these out using new technology.

“We recently met English Heritage to show them our data and they identified features believed to be First World War practice trenches. We’ve now shared this with them for further investigation.”

Simon Crutchley, from the Remote Sensing team at English Heritage said:

“Whilst conducting analysis on the mining remains I noticed what appeared to be the classic crenelated forms of First World War trenches to the east of the mining. Further examination revealed what appears to be the extensive and unrecorded remains of First World War practice trenches, which could help tell the story of Derbyshire’s soldiers as they prepared to go to war.”