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NEIMME Lectures: "Extreme Archaeology: Digging into the World War I Fightin...

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The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

Westgate Road

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 1SE

United Kingdom

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During the Great War, a network of hundreds of miles of tunnels was established along the Western Front. The tunnels were used for offence, defence, supply, troop movement and accommodation.

The entrances were blocked and sealed at the end of the war by various means including blasting and infill. The Durand Group digs through these blockages and other collapse zones, and reopens, makes safe, explores and records the tunnels and their contents. The Group clears munitions and defuses mine charges as and when they are found. Significant voids that present a collapse risk that could break the surface are mapped and reported to the French authorities.

The talk will cover the development and use of the tunnels in the war, the digging and shoring techniques used by the Group, the hazards that are encountered, and the archaeological and historical discoveries made within these remarkable time capsules.

Paul Allison is a native of the North East. Having started his career in rope access, geotechnical engineering and confined space work with a side line in explosives “engineering”, he has spent the last 25 years in minerals extraction and processing.

An experienced mountaineer and cave explorer, he is a group leader and rope rescue instructor with the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team and a member of the Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit. Paul has been an active member of the Durand Group for five years. In his spare time, he breeds cattle.

Information about The Durand Group can be found at www.durandgroup.org.uk

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The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

Westgate Road

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 1SE

United Kingdom

View Map

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