The Hawthorn Crater Redoubt - New technology and new interpretation

About this project

The interdisciplinary academic approach applied the techniques of Graham’s film and history research with Production House in France with Deborah the Tank and the Battle of Cambrai to work with communities at Beaumont Hamel at Hawthorn Crater to create new narratives in the history of the Battle of the Somme in World War One.

The first day of the Battle of the Somme is infamous in British military history. Unique access to this heritage site in France combined with scientific and film technology methodologies are creating new knowledge about the battlefield. Associate Professor Fiona Graham led the documentary narrative in an international interdisciplinary team of forensic archaeologists, historians, chemists, and film makers to uncover and archive the Hawthorn Crater at Beaumont.

Associate Professor Fiona Graham researched the story and site applying the forensic investigation by Staffordshire University Professor John Cassella of the Crater with historians, military historian for films War Horse and 1917 Andrew Robertshaw, and communities in France and the UK. She created a narrative arc capturing how the crater brings communities together from across Europe ultimately creating a new heritage content and museum literature in France to commemorate the story.

The site, never before scientifically examined facilitated access to partners including Graham and Cassella uncovering the new narrative story of the Crater filmed by War cinematographer Malins marking the start of the offensive in 1916. Uncovering new knowledge of the soil chemistry and the crater structure and using narrative and digital film methodologies including examining topography of the battlefield and Hawthorn Crater from drone examinations new conclusions are drawn and digitally archived in addition to understanding how chemical compositions have changed the ecosystems of the battlefield.

The size and shape of the crater are considered in light of the use of laser scanning technology, geophysico-chemical methodologies are used to understand how the soils and materials are related and chemical analyses of the soils and the up cast from the two reported explosions will marry-up with Malin’s film to facilitate a holistic understanding of the mines . application by Graham with Ottey created new outputs of for example where archaeology has exposed numerous unknown crater facets (e.g. firing-bay). Graham has developed new narratives combining findings and dissemination with communities in France and the UK and to the public with Somme Tourism centres.

You can hear Associate Professor Fiona Graham talking more about this subject on the First World War podcast.


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