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Explosives found at Castle Howard

101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment searching the woodland

11:23am 16th August 2011

A potentially explosive situation's been diffused at Castle Howard.

A bomb disposal team was drafted in on Friday after 300 rounds of wartime mortar were found.

The items were taken in to local woodland and destroyed.

Staff at Castle Howard have told Minster FM, each mortar contained a trace of explosive making them dangerous.

Statement from Castle Howard

On Friday 12th August a Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal Unit recovered almost three hundred rounds of World War II practice ordnance from woodland on the Castle Howard Estate, near York.

The bomb disposal team armed with metal detecting equipment was deployed to a woodland location close to the village of Welburn, where ordnance had been sighted.  Almost immediately into the search the Royal Engineers had a quick succession of finds, and before long - much to their surprise – they found themselves surrounded by a large quantity of anti-tank and anti-personnel rounds.  In total the squad discovered two hundred and seventy five rounds lightly buried in the undergrowth.  Fortunately the experienced team swiftly identified the finds as Blacker Bombard Practice rounds.

Sergeant Scott Docherty, who led 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment Explosive Ordnance Disposal, explains:

“The Blacker Bombards were issued to the Home Guard, and these practice rounds would have been used for training purposes in readiness for a German invasion.  Given the hillside location of the find it is likely that the spot was a Home Guard lookout station.  The training would have taken place there, and the ordnance most certainly just left behind”.

Sergeant Docherty goes onto say “Because these are practice rounds, they are not considered high risk. However, each will contain a trace of explosive, so it is our task to safely remove and destroy them.”

The Royal Engineers also dug up eighteen concrete filled ‘dummy’ anti-tank mines, which had been purposely laid out to direct any invading German tanks into the firing line of the Home Guard waiting on the hillside.

The discovery has been timely for Castle Howard’s Curator, Dr Christopher Ridgway who is about to start research for a new exhibition ‘The Country House at War’.

Dr Ridgway says:

“Finding these unknown items is very exciting, but at the same time there are so many unknown stories from the locality that we are keen to tease them out in our preparatory research.  If anyone does have any recollections of Castle Howard and the Estate in wartime I would be delighted if they got in touch.”

Please email any wartime recollections to Dr Christopher Ridgway at - ‘The Country House at War’ will go on display in 2013 in conjunction with the Yorkshire Country House Partnership.


First: 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment searching the woodland

Second: Castle Howard's Curator and the Blacker Bombard rounds

Third: Removing the finds

Fourth: Concrete filled anti-tank mines

101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment searching the woodland

Castle Howard's Curator and the Blacker Bombard rounds

Removing the finds

Concrete filled anti-tank mines

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