Bob Clarke


30th April 2012:

Exeter PGR Conference 2012


Secrecy and Disenfranchisement: Narratives of Cold War Voluntary Organisations


The concept of culture and material cultural has become a familiar part of archaeological investigation. Cultural identities are not static entities; rather they develop within the life-cycle of the culture or organisation they are identified with. Recognising this can be complex. This is especially so when considering the material culture of groups whose activities are bound by regulation or are connected to defence-related activities. Recent research in the United Kingdom has suggested the surviving documentation record is complete enough to illustrate most activities undertaken in, on and around such sites (CBA 2002). This researcher argues not.


Working with the historical archaeology of the Cold War it has become clear that some cultures are still ‘invisible’ to academia. Their heterotopic function dictated a clandestine space that had parallels with many facets of Foucault’s ‘other space’ (Foucault 1984). Now, perpetuating that same concept, and exacerbated by a sense of disenfranchisement (Scham 2001), that function suffers extremes of interpretation. Subsequently documentation can only be considered a singular facet in the drive for true understanding. To realise an objective view of the material culture of the period we must engage those who were members of the organisation throughout its life-cycle. Indeed Graham Fairclough pointed out that “Despite being so thoroughly documented, it [the Cold War] is still a period that requires us to ‘hear’ the material culture” (2007, 23).


Utilising results so far, this paper explores the reason why some personal accounts and histories are difficult to access, arguing we should persevere if we are to fully populate a once ‘secret’ landscape with meaning.



Council for British Archaeology (CBA). (2002) accessed 27 November 2010

Fairclough, G. (2007) The Cold War in Context, in Schofield, J., Cocroft, W. editors, A Fearsome Heritage; Diverse Legacies of the Cold War, One World Archaeology, No. 50, pp – 19-32.

Foucault, M., Trans. Jay Miskowiec (1984) Des Espaces Autres, Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, No. 5.

Scham, S.A. (2001) The Archaeology of the Disenfranchised, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 8 pp – 183 – 213.


15th December 2011:


Remembering the Cold War: Personal histories and the problem of time when discussing recent archaeological sites


The British Cold War is currently an under investigated, marginalised period, in the study of conflict archaeology. Military orientated initiatives such as the Defence of Britain Project have found national prominence recently however, do not continue past 1945. This chronological ‘buffer’ damages the possibility of assimilating recent archaeology into mainstream study.  Work with the public has exposed reasons why the British Cold War, and it’s landscape, is poorly represented in personal histories. Put simply a forty-year period is too broad a timeframe with which to adequately demonstrate historical and educational value. It is anticipated that ongoing research will demand a more chronologically structured discussion when considering the preservation of both material culture and extant, representative, Cold War sites.

5th November 2011:

Wiltshire Industrial Archaeology Symposium

Cold War Monuments of the South-West

The South-West contains a multitude of government orientated landscapes including a Home Defence Region, monitoring system for radioactive fallout and a relic Civil Defence landscape. How should we interpret these monuments to a destructive age? This paper offers a new chronology for the Cold War archaeology of the period and reminds us of the importance we should attach to structures intended for conflict.

7th November 2009:

Wiltshire Industrial Archaeology Symposium

The Cradle of Military Aviation

The landscape evidence for the first military airfields on Salisbury Plain provide an account of the development of airpower in the United Kingdom. Events at these locations had a lasting effect on the entire 20th Century. Spatial relationships between the development of aircraft technology and airfield distribution are discussed.