Advertisement

Rewilding and War Monuments: Orford Ness, c.1995 to the Present

  • Sophia Davis
Chapter

Abstract

Conservation and heritage form the focus of this chapter, through a place that brings together my intertwining themes of nature and militarisation in yet another form. This is Orford Ness, a long, shingle spit home to various forms of military-scientific testing throughout the twentieth century, including an atomic weapons research establishment. After being abandoned in the 1970s, the Ness was bought in 1993 by the National Trust, who view it as a monument to the Cold War. The Trust’s strategy has been to let the various, mysterious buildings there slowly decay and be reclaimed by nature. I use my own experiences, interviews with the site’s managers, and nature writing to investigate conceptualisations of nature and destruction. I explore the way that military science is brought into the heritage industry, contextualising the experience at Orford Ness with ideas of memorialisation and aesthetics.

References

  1. Anderson, Ben. 2014. Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, Lorna, and Mark Smith. 2006. Britain, Australia and the Bomb: The Nuclear Tests and Their Aftermath. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Arnold-de Simine, S. 2015. “The Ruin as Memorial—The Memorial as Ruin.” Performance Research 20 (3): 94–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bennet, Luke. 2011. “Bunkerology: A Case Study in the Theory and Practice of Urban Exploration.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29 (3): 421–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Card, Nell. 2010. “Love Is in the (Open) Air.” The Guardian, 14 August. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2010/aug/14/romantic-day-trips-outdoors-uk?INTCMP=SRCH.
  6. Clark, Laurie Beth. 2015. “Ruined Landscapes and Residual Architecture.” Performance Research 20 (3): 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cocker, Mark. 2001. Crow Country. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  8. Cocroft, Wayne, and Magnus Alexander. 2009. “Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Orfordness, Suffolk.” English Heritage Research Department Report Series 10.Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, Nigel. 2000. “How Natural Is a Nature Reserve? An Ideological Study of British Nature Conservation Landscapes.” Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1131–1152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cowie, Jefferson, and Joseph Heathcott. 2003. Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization. Ithaca: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  11. Davis, Sophia. 2008. “Military Landscapes and Secret Science: The Case of Orfordness.” Cultural Geographies in Practice 15: 143–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deakin, Roger. 1999. Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain. London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  13. DeSilvey, Caitlin. 2006. “Observed Decay: Telling Stories with Mutable Things.” Journal of Material Culture 11 (3): 318–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. ———. 2017. Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dickinson, Greg. 2018. “The Rise of ‘Ruin Porn’—Has Our Obsession with Abandoned Places Gone Too Far?” The Telegraph, 1 March. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/ruin-porn-abandoned-places-becomes-unhealthy-habit/.
  16. Dudley, Marianna. 2012. An Environmental History of the UK Defence Estate, 1945 to the Present. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  17. East Anglian Daily Times (EADT). Title unknown, 6 January 1995. Orford Ness files at National Trust Suffolk Regional Office, Ipswich.Google Scholar
  18. East Anglian Daily Times (EADT). Title unknown, 6 June 1995. Orford Ness files at National Trust Suffolk Regional Office, Ipswich.Google Scholar
  19. Edensor, Tim. 2005a. “Waste Matter—The Debris of Industrial Ruins and the Disordering of the Material World.” Journal of Material Culture 10 (3): 311–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. ———. 2005b. Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  21. Edmonds, Mark. 2010. “When They Come to Model Heaven: Big Science and the Monumental in Post-war Britain.” Antiquity 84: 774–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Edwards, Sam. 2015. Allies in Memory: World War II and the Politics of Transatlantic Commemoration, c. 1941–2001. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Exxperious. 2017. “Report—Orford Ness, Orford, Suffolk. April 2017.” https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/orford-ness-orford-suffolk-april-2017.114214/.
  24. Falconer, Kieren. 2005. “All Quiet on the Eastern Front.” The Guardian, 10 September. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2005/sep/10/unitedkingdom.guardiansaturdaytravelsection.
  25. Fassi, Anthony. 2010. “Industrial Ruins, Urban Exploring, and the Post-industrial Picturesque.” The New Centennial Review 10 (1): 141–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fletcher, Martin. 2016. “On the Front Line of Conservation.” 1843 Magazine, 1 June. https://www.1843magazine.com/features/the-daily/on-the-front-line-of-conservation.
  27. Furlong, J., L. Knight, and S. Slocombe. 2002. “‘They Shall Not Grow Old’: An Analysis of Trends in Memorialisation Based on Information Held by the UK National Inventory of War Memorials.” Cultural Trends 12 (45): 1–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gieryn, Thomas. 1998. “Balancing Acts: Science, Enola Gay and History Wars at the Smithsonian.” In The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture, edited by Sharon Macdonald, 197–228. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Greco, JoAnn. 2012. “The Psychology of Ruin Porn.” City Lab, 6 January. https://www.citylab.com/design/2012/01/psychology-ruin-porn/886/.
  30. Havlick, David. 2011 “Disarming Nature: Converting Military Lands to Wildlife Refuges.” The Geographical Review 101 (2): 183–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Heazell, Patrick. 2010. Most Secret: The Hidden History of Orford Ness. Stroud: The History Press.Google Scholar
  32. High, Stephen, and David Lewis. 2007. Corporate Wasteland: The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Hills, Ann. 1994. “Orford Ness—Secrets Revealed.” History Today 44 (9).Google Scholar
  34. Historic England. 2014. “Orford Ness: The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment Test Buildings and Associated Structures.” https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1416933.
  35. Holden, Robert. 2005. “Favorite Landscape.” Concrete Quarterly 212: 14.Google Scholar
  36. Huggan, Graham. 2016. “Back to the Future: The ‘New Nature Writing’, Ecological Boredom, and the Recall of the Wild.” Prose Studies 38 (2): 152–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hunt, Stephen E. 2009. “The Emergence of Psychoecology: The New Nature Writings of Roger Deakin, Mark Cocker, Robert Macfarlane and Richard Mabey.” Green Letters 10 (1): 70–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huyssen, Andreas. 2006. “Nostalgia for Ruins.” Grey Room 23: 6–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kemp, Wolfgang. 1990. “Images of Decay: Photography in the Picturesque Tradition.” October 54: 102–133. First published 1978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kent, Duncan. 2010. “Orfordness, Suffolk.” The Guardian, 18 August. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2010/aug/18/top-10-uk-walks-orford-ness.
  41. Kinsey, Gordon. 1981. Orfordness—Secret Site. Lavenham: Terence Dalton Limited.Google Scholar
  42. Kirsch, Scott. 1997. “Watching the Bombs Go Off: Photography, Nuclear Landscapes, and Spectator Democracy.” Antipode 29: 227–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Küchler, Susan. 1999. “The Place of Memory.” In The Art of Forgetting, edited by Adrian Forty and Susan Küchler. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  44. Linenthal, Edward, and Tom Engelhardt, eds. 1996. History War: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  45. Lorimer, Hayden. 2008. “Cultural Geography: Non-representational Conditions and Concerns.” Progress in Human Geography 32: 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mabey, Richard. 1981. The Common Ground: A Place for Nature in Britain’s Future? London: Arrow Books.Google Scholar
  47. MacDonald, Fraser. 2006. “Geopolitics and ‘the Vision Thing’: Regarding Britain and America’s First Nuclear Missile.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geography 31: 53–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Macdonald, Helen. 2014. H Is for Hawk. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  49. Macfarlane, Robert. 2007. The Wild Places. London: Granta Books.Google Scholar
  50. ———. 2012. “Robert Macfarlane’s Untrue Island: The Voices of Orford Ness.” The Guardian, 8 July. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/jul/08/untrue-island-orford-ness-macfarlane.
  51. Macpherson, Hannah. 2010. “Non-representational Approaches to Body–Landscape Relations.” Geography Compass 4: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. MarkR. 2006. “Report—Orford Ness—29 July 2006.” https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/orford-ness-29-7-06.2629/#post-38812.
  53. Marland, Pippa. 2014. “‘Heaps of Scrap Metal and Defunct Machinery’: Assemblages, Ethics and Affect in W.G. Sebald’s Orford Ness.” Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment 5 (2): 123–139.Google Scholar
  54. Marren, Peter. 1994. England’s National Nature Reserves. London: T & AD Poyser.Google Scholar
  55. Marshall, Debra. 2004. “Making Sense of Remembrance.” Social & Cultural Geography 5 (1): 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mead, Andrew. 1995. “Orfordness: Balancing Public Access with Aura of Mystery.” The Architects’ Journal 201 (18): 27–29.Google Scholar
  57. Mellor, Leo. 2011. Reading the Ruins: Modernism, Bombsites and British Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Michalski, Sergei. 1998. Public Monuments: Art in Political Bondage. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  59. Monbiot, George. 2013. Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  60. Morris, M. G. 1991. “The Management of Reserves and Protected Areas.” In The Scientific Management of Temperate Communities for Conservation, edited by I. F. Spellberg, F. B. Goldsmith, and M. G. Morris, 273–286. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  61. Moshenska, Gabriel. 2010. “Working with Memory in the Archaeology of Modern Conflict.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 20 (1): 33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Mott, Carrie, and Susan M. Roberts. 2013. “Not Everyone Has (the) Balls: Urban Exploration and the Persistence of Masculinist Geography.” Antipode 46 (1): 229–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. The National Trust (NT). 2003. Orford Ness. The National Trust.Google Scholar
  64. ———. 2004. “Property Management Plan 2004–2007: Orfordness—A Statement of Significance.”Google Scholar
  65. ———. 2015. “Spirit of Place Statement at Orford Ness.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  66. Nebula. 2016. “Report—Orford Ness—March 2016.” https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/orfordness-march-16.102310/.
  67. Newnham, David. 1995. “The Wasteland.” The Guardian Weekend, 24 June.Google Scholar
  68. Norfolk Explorer. 2015. “Report—Orford Ness and Bawdsey. Suffolk. September 2015.” https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/orford-ness-and-bawdsey-suffolk-sept-2015.100222/.
  69. Pickett, Steward T. A, V. Thomas Parker, and Peggy L. Fiedler. 1992. “The New Paradigm in Ecology: Implications for Conservation Biology Above the Species Level.” In Conservation Biology: The Theory and Practice of Nature Conservation, Preservation and Management, edited by P. L. Fiedler and S. K. Jain, 66–88. New York: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  70. Richardson, Emily. 2009. “Cold War Kid.” The Observer, 5 April. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2009/apr/05/orford-ness.
  71. Rowe, M. 2008. “Flat Out on the Suffolk Coast.” The Independent, 4 May.Google Scholar
  72. Sebald, W. G. 2002. Rings of Saturn. London: Random House.Google Scholar
  73. Sheail, John, J. R. Traweek, and J. O. Mountford. 1997. “The UK Transition from Nature Preservation to ‘Creative Conservation’.” Environmental Conservation 24 (3): 224–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Smith, Jos. 2013. “An Archipelagic Literature: Re-framing the ‘New Nature Writing’.” Green Letters 17 (1): 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sontag, Susan. 2000. “A Mind in Mourning.” The Times Literary Supplement, 25 February.Google Scholar
  76. Stewart, Susan. 1993. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Strangleman, Tim. 2013. “‘Smokestack Nostalgia’, ‘Ruin Porn’ or Working Class Obituary: The Role and Meaning of Deindustrial Representation.” International Labour and Working Class History 84: 23–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Suffolk Life. Title unknown, 16 May 1994. Ipswich: National Trust Suffolk Regional Office.Google Scholar
  79. The Sunday Telegraph. 1998. Title unknown, 18 January 1988. Ipswich: National Trust Suffolk Regional Office.Google Scholar
  80. Taylor, Peter. 2005. Beyond Conservation: A Wildland Strategy. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  81. Tolia-Kelly, Divya, Emma Waterton, and Steve Watson, eds. 2017. Heritage, Affect and Emotion. Politics, Prices and Infrastructures. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  82. Trigg, Dylan. 2006. The Aesthetics of Decay: Nothingness, Nostalgia and the Absence of Reason. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
  83. Twigge, Stephen, and Len Scott. 2000. Planning Armageddon: Britain, the United States and the Command of Western Nuclear Forces, 1945–1964. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  84. Wainwright, Angus. 1995. “Does Orfordness = Awful Mess?” Orfordness Files, National Trust Regional Office, Suffolk.Google Scholar
  85. ———. 1996. “Orfordness.” In The Remains of Distant Times: Archaeology and the National Trust, edited by D. Morgan Evans, P. Salway, and D. Thackray. London: Boydell Press.Google Scholar
  86. Warrington, Stuart, Matthew Guilliatt, Grant Lohoar, and David Mason. 2014. “Effects of Lagoon Creation and Water Control Changes on Birds at a Former Airfield at Orford Ness, Suffolk, UK: Part 1—Breeding Pied Avocets, Common Redshank and Northern Lapwing.” Conservation Evidence 11: 53–56.Google Scholar
  87. Waterton, Emma. 2014. “A More-Than-Representational Understanding of Heritage? The ‘Past’ and the Politics of Affect.” Geography Compass 8: 823–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Watkins, Jack. 2009. “Orford Ness No Longer Awful Mess.” The Telegraph, 20 August. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/countryside/6057321/Orford-Ness-no-longer-an-awful-mess.html.
  89. Whitmarsh, Andrew. 2011. “‘We Will Remember Them’: Memory and Commemoration in War Museums.” Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies 7: 11–15.Google Scholar
  90. Winter, Jay. 1996. Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  91. Wood, B. 1996. “Species and Habitats: Room for More Perceptive Management?” In Nature Reserves—Who Needs Them?, edited by T. G. Lawson and T. M. Reed, 47–55. Peterborough: JNCC.Google Scholar
  92. Woodward, Christopher. 2001. In Ruins. London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  93. Wylie, John. 2005. “A Single Day’s Walking: Narrating Self and Landscape on the South West Coast Path.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30 (2): 234–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. ———. 2007. “The Spectral Geographies of W.G. Sebald.” Cultural Geographies 14: 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. ———. 2009. “Landscape, Absence and the Geographies of Love.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geography 34: 275–289.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophia Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.BerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations