The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.
The coastal country park of Lepe in the New Forest played a significant role in the events of June 1944. In the years and months leading up to D-Day, the waterfront saw extensive preparations, including the construction of massive breakwaters for the famous Mulberry Harbour, purpose built embarkation hards for landing craft and a terminal for the PLUTO pipeline.
Today, the remains of this massive infrastructure can still be found on the shore and eroding from the cliffs behind the beach. One of the earliest archaeological surveys of what remains was undertaken in 1990 and since then numerous investigations have followed, most recently as part of the New Forest National Park Authority’s New Forest Remembers: Untold Stories of World War II project.
Despite the extensive fieldwork, documentary sources for Lepe remain scarce. It is only recently that historical sources pertaining to a First World War gun battery at the site have been identified and these provide only scant detail. Similarly, there are no known plans of the Second World War battery, the PLUTO installation or the Mulberry construction site and, so far, only a handful of blurry wartime photographs of the site have been uncovered.
Lepe is a site where, almost alone, archaeology is providing answers about these installations. What more can survey and excavation tell us and how do they contribute to this site’s story?
You can find out more about Mulberry Harbours and Embarkation and the role of the New Forest during D Day by visiting our main page on D-Day in the New Forest.