A Secret World War II Bunker Was Just Discovered in Scotland

A digital model of the World War II bunker found in Scotland.
A digital model of the World War II bunker found in Scotland.
© FLS by AOC Archaeology 2019

Forty years ago, Kit Rodger and his friends discovered a small underground bunker while traipsing around Scotland’s Craigielands Forest. Apart from featuring in their boyhood adventures, the mysterious bunker remained unknown and was gradually obscured by undergrowth.

A few months ago, Rodger, now a survey technician for Forest and Land Scotland (FLS), returned to the area to check for any heritage sites or environmental attributes that would interfere with an upcoming tree-felling operation. Without an official record of the bunker, Rodger and his colleague, Kenny Bogle, scoured the forest floor for any signs of it.

“With only vague memories of more than 40 years ago, Kenny and I searched through head-high bracken until we stumbled on a shallow trench which led to the bunker door,” Rodger said in an FLS blog post. “Only a small opening remained, but we could just make out the blast wall in the darkness beyond.”

An image of the bunker beneath the forest floor. © FLS by AOC Archaeology, 2019

After an investigation, the FLS determined the bunker was built during World War II to house an Auxiliary Unit, a British citizen militia tasked with sabotaging an invasion if the enemies made it past the first line of defense, the Home Guard. These highly clandestine units, sometimes called “Churchill’s secret army” or “scallywags,” comprised men with a wealth of knowledge about the land—like gamekeepers, foresters, and poachers. Because they were the last resort, they were expected to fight to the death.

And, because Auxiliary Units operated with utmost secrecy, many of their bunkers have never been found. This particular one is about 10 feet by 23 feet and was constructed from riveted, corrugated iron sheets over a cement floor. FLS archaeologist Matt Ritchie said in a press release that records indicate the bunker was used by about seven men who were armed with revolvers, submachine guns, a sniper’s rifle, and explosives. The only surviving evidence of the unit’s life underground is some broken wood, which might be the remains of bunk beds. As BBC News reports, the bunker likely also contained a table and a cooking stove.

A sketch depicting what bunker life for the Auxiliary Unit might've looked like.© FLS by Alan Braby, 2020

Though we know the bunker is somewhere near Moffat, a town in Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway council area, the FLS is keeping its exact location under wraps to protect it from a potential influx of visitors.

[h/t BBC News]

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Video games

Nintendo

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Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

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- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

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- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

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- Apple AirPods Pro; $199 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa(4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

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Archaeologists Discover the Jousting Yard Where Henry VIII Had His Historic Accident

National Trust, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
National Trust, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Henry VIII may have never earned his reputation as an ill-mannered tyrant if it weren't for injuries he sustained at age 44. Now, as Live Science reports, archaeologists have uncovered the infamous jousting yard where that history-changing accident took place.

Prior to the beheading of Anne Boleyn—his second of six wives—King Henry VIII was regarded as a kind, gregarious leader by those who knew him. The point where descriptions of him changed their tone coincided with a fall he took on January 24, 1536.

While jousting at Greenwich Palace, Henry was tossed from his armored horse and further injured when his steed fell on top of him. The incident caused him to lose consciousness for two hours and nearly cost him his life.

Though it was never diagnosed, some experts believe Henry VIII sustained a brain injury that day that altered his personality. From that point on, he was characterized as irritable and cruel. He was in constant pain from migraines and an ulcerated leg, which could also explain the mood shift. The (sometimes violent) dissolution of most of his marriages occurred post-accident.

Ruins of the jousting yard, or tiltyard, where that fateful incident took place are located 5.5 feet beneath the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, the former site of Greenwich Palace. After falling into disrepair, the palace was demolished by Charles II, and the exact location of the tiltyard was forgotten. A team of archaeologists led by Simon Withers of the University of Greenwich used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to locate the remnants buried beneath the ground earlier this year.

The giveaways were the footprints of two octagonal towers. The archaeologists say these were likely the foundations of the bleacher-like viewing stands where spectators watched jousting matches. That would place the historic tiltyard about 330 feet east of where it was originally thought to be situated.

The radar scans provided a peek at what lies beneath the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, but to learn more, the archaeologists will need to get their hands dirty. Their next step will be digging up the site to get a better look at the ruins.

[h/t Live Science]