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Geophysical investigations of WWII air-raid shelters in the UK

Ainsworth, J.T.; Pringle, J.K.; Doyle, P.; Stringfellow, M.; Roberts, D.; Stimpson, I.G.; Wisniewski, K.D.; Goodwin, J.


J.T. Ainsworth

P. Doyle

M. Stringfellow

D. Roberts

K.D. Wisniewski

J. Goodwin


Just before WW2, the British government prepared for an aerial onslaught that was predicted to raze cities and cause mass casualties. By 1938, the Air Raid Precautions Act officially stated that population protection would be through dispersal, meaning evacuation and small-scale protection, local authority responsibility often devolving to householders. Archaeological records of remaining air-raid shelters are relatively rare and under threat. This paper reports on geophysical surveys on three sites in Stoke-on-Trent and London. Results found three intact Stanton shelters in Stoke-on-Trent, located by GPR, electrical resistivity, magnetometry, gravity and electromagnetic methods. In London, partially demolished shelters and an intact, mass public shelter were both detected by EM and GPR methods, with subsequent intrusive investigations confirming results. Study outcomes shows hitherto-neglected wartime shelters are in varied condition, with geophysical surveys able to detect, characterise and assess them, helping bring WWII British history into the wider scientific community and public domain.


Ainsworth, J., Pringle, J., Doyle, P., Stringfellow, M., Roberts, D., Stimpson, I., …Goodwin, J. (2018). Geophysical investigations of WWII air-raid shelters in the UK. Journal of Conflict Archaeology, 13(3), 167-197.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2019
Publication Date Sep 2, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Print ISSN 1574-0773
Publisher Maney Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 3
Pages 167-197
Keywords geophysics, WW2, air raid shelters, The Blitz, United Kingdom
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