Friday, June 03, 2011

A Margate Mystery Solved

It’s not a common sight, two Thanet council cabinet members wading around in the thick clay and mud at the low tide mark on Margate’s main sands but tonight was different.

I was made curious by a report on Town councillor, blogger and coastal warden, Tony Ovenden’s Thanet Coast weblog, of a mysterious circular hole adjacent to the remains of an unknown wreck. This is directly in line with ‘Godden’s Gap’ and the old Tivoli brook, so I ventured out this evening for a look and found Tony busily excavating for buried treasure!

The mystery hole, you will see from the photo, is almost perfectly circular and sits in the thick grey clay which indicates the presence of a fresh water spring. Fifty feet to the east are the remains of an unknown sailing vessel and the area is littered with the remains of oyster shells and ancient bottle and china fragments.

With no real idea of what I was looking at, I called my cabinet colleague and celebrity ‘Rock Doc’ Alasdair Bruce, to come and give us an opinion. Was this the missing entrance to Margate caves, a freshwater spring or something the Time Team's Tony Robinson should be investigating?

Cllr Bruce appeared some thirty minutes later in ‘wellies’, professionally supported by Kim, his geologist partner. ‘”Ahh”, he exclaimed knowledgeably, “ I've seen one of the before, it’s a bomb crater” and after fishing around up to his arms in the mud for a while he started producing pieces of shrapnel. “Probably a German bomber after the railway station”, he pronounced sagely, before turning his attention to the remains of the unknown wreck that Tony Ovenden has described on his weblog last week.

By now, our little group had attracted some attention and Margate’s Harbour Arm owner, Fiona Sherriff, had spotted the two wandering cabinet members through a telescope from her home and had wandered out to see what we were all up to.

Can any readers recall a WW II bombing raid which missed the town and hit the beach instead? It would be a good use of the internet to find out.

My thanks to Tony Ovenden for bringing this and other little historical gems to the public’s attention. He was the lucky winner this evening finding an 1851 penny in rather good condition!

Michael Child has very kindly uploaded a map of bomb craters on the Margate seafront, here.


Anonymous said...

It's a maritime crop circle.

DrM. said...

Cllr Bruce writes:

"I've had a quick look at the mud and the preliminary conclusion is interesting. It would appear to be lagoon mud with a mix of brackish and freshwater species of ostracod ( the clam supports this). However, whats interesting is the species I have so far seen suggest a warm phase during deposition (Mediaeval warm period perhaps). So the picture would be one of a large lagoon occupying most of the current beach plus the dreamland site, and fronted by salt marsh acting as a buffer against incursions from the sea which ultimately won the day. Now taking samples from a bomb crater does carry the risk of contamination ie older mud mixed with newer. so this needs more work and I feel a borehole coming on. But, this mud could potentially be up to 3,000 years old."

Anonymous said...

Thanet at War by Roy Humpreys has a bomb map from 1944 and there are quite a few 'dots' on the main sands

Tony Beachcomber said...


They are good photographs and keep a good record of the find, this is the first time I have made a "find" public before the event. To be honest it went very well and I will makes finds more public in future.

ascu75 aka Don said...

SOUND LIKE YOU ALL HAD SOME GOOD FUN oops I wish I could have joined you. It is marvelous what we have right on our own door step. Keep up the good work well done all of you.