THE FINDS are in and are still being cleaned after Shropshire Wildlife Trust held an archaeological investigation at one of its newest nature reserves at Prees Heath Common.
They joined with Whitchurch Museum and Archives Group at the Common for an exercise funded by Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership Scheme.
The event was made possible because local land-owner John Baker had recently donated land on the Common to Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
The Trust then planned to carry out mammal and insect surveys and a botanical survey, listing all the species found on the site.
Kirsty Brown from Shropshire Wildlife Trust had met up with the Whitchurch Museum Archives Group and discovered they were keen to find out the archaeo-logical history of the army camp during the First World War – so a day was planned to do all the surveys.
Kirsty said: “Prees Heath Common is rich in wildlife and history.
“We hope that scraping back to bare ground will expose interesting archaeology, and by removing some of the more invasive vegetation it will provide an important habitat for the unusual plants and insects of the common to colonise. It’s a real win-win situation.
“We’re particularly hoping for First World War artefacts as this period is less well documented and any finds would be great to help commemorate its centenary.”
David Broad from Whitchurch Museum and Archives Group was a mine of information on the history of the site.
He said there was once a hospital on Prees Heath Common (hence the name Hospital Lane) but the archaeological dig was a little further south on the site of an army camp.
After the First World War in 1919 the site was used as a demobilisation centre for returning soldiers.
It was requisitioned during World War Two as an alien refugee internment camp – around 1,000 mainly Austrian and German refugees were housed in tents surrounded by barbed wire fencing.
Finds included an ancient shoe, a square nail and pieces of military metal.
All finds will eventually be displayed at Whitchurch Heritage Centre.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust is running a workshop to record the history of Prees Heath Common at Lynne’s Raven Café at the A41/A49 junction, Prees Heath, Whitchurch, SY13 2AF, on Thursday, June 22 from 10am to 1pm.
It’s free to attend but places are limited. To book a place, email kirstyb@ShropshireWildlifeTrust. org.uk
See full story in the Whitchurch Herald