SMHS project: Dragon's Teeth


22 Feb 2014

Dragon's Teeth

These concrete anti-tank blocks are correctly known as cubes, because of their geometric shape above ground. However, many of those built in East Sussex have an extra adornment in the shape of a chamfered extension, leading to a more colloquial (and semi-official) term dragon's teeth.

Clearing the dragon's teeth on our site at Battle of vegetation was our first priority, as these blocks determined the physical scope of the project.

We began by walking the line as it snaked and zig-zagged through the landowner's property. A total of 55 blocks were recorded.

This line is not only interesting on account of the turns it performs, but also in that it runs across different ground levels.

The photograph at right illustrates the line running uphill and turning to run along the top of the bank.

An interesting feature is the tree stump; the tree was obviously alive and quite solid in 1940, as the blocks are spaced to use the tree as part of the defensive line. This is also seen in the photograph below; note the tree stump and wider spacing between the two blocks on the right.

Dragon's Teeth Dragon's Teeth

About half of the cubes were encased in thick vegetation; this was removed from the top and one side in order for us to get a better view of the line.

The landowner was pleased to have us clear the scrub, just as we were more than happy to be able to uncover the defences!

This removal was somewhat ironic, as the reason the line twists and turns so much is that it was following dense vegetation in an attempt to camouflage the defences from aerial observation!

The survey revealed some of the construction details; a few blocks displayed a bulge where the wooden shuttering had been filled with too much concrete in one go and had bowed outwards.

Sadly, there was not much in the way of graffiti although most blocks had an 'X' etched into the upper surface; the significance of this is not known.

The vegetation removal took one day and so we returned the following week to do the full survey. However, this remains outstanding as we made a rather important discovery and our attention was diverted!

Dragon's Teeth

 


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