Exceptional insight into Napoleonic barracks

A recent archaeological excavation in Weeley as part of our planning condition for a new ‘Rose Homes’ development has revealed the remains of a military barracks occupied during the Napoleonic Wars.

At the start of the 19th century, Weeley was a small parish of 250 people. Between 1803 and 1814 the population swelled with the arrival of a military barracks to garrison the Martello towers on the Essex coast providing defence against French invasion. From historical sources, it appears that as many as 4,100 soldiers along with their families and 220 cavalry horses were stationed in Weeley during this time.

However, no physical evidence of the Napoleonic barracks had been sited at Weeley until now.

With thanks to a team from Oxford Archaeology East and with consultation from RPS Heritage, over the past 5 months archaeologists have identified 16 buildings, roadways, drainage systems and an array of military-related finds.

Louise Moan, Senior Project Manager, at Oxford Archaeology East said: “it’s not very often that we get a chance to investigate a site of this age. So it’s been really exciting unpicking the findings and being able to tie these to historical documentation so that we get an understanding of the people stationed here and what it was like living at the barracks”.

These include a buckle plate with J T Miller scored into it as well as a press seal showing a man’s head wearing a military helmet.  Fragments of pottery with a neoclassical design were also recovered, as well as a concentration of Roman and Iron Age features, such as a large circular ditch.

Now that the excavations have come to an end, the finds are being processed at Oxford Archaeology East’s office in Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire, before being sent to specialists to identify and make recommendations for further analysis.

Further information can be found on Oxford Archaeology’s blog:-


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