CENTRE FOR EXPERIMENTAL MILITARY ARCHAEOLOGY

The creation of the Centre for Experimental Military Archaeology (CEMA) is possibly Andy’s most ambitious project yet.

“Experimental archaeology is a field of study which attempts to generate and test archaeological hypotheses, usually by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures performing various tasks or feats,” explains Andy.

Working with filmmaker and long-term colleague, Ross Barnwell, and business entrepreneur, Mark Ingarfield, Andy’s ultimate aim is to construct a range of replica historical sites to show what life was really like for the average person in days gone by. These will facilitate academic study, educational tours and provide working film sets for hire.

First up will be a replica of a First World War trench. Andy is a world-renowned expert on trench warfare. He first created a replica trench ten years ago when he was researching his book “24 Hour Trench”. This gave him the opportunity to discover real insights into the day-to-day life of the British Tommy – how he ate, moved about in the trenches, went to the toilet etc.

Once the First World War trench is completed, the team hopes to progress to further reconstructions representing, for example, the Roman, Norman, English Civil War and Second World War periods.

The CEMA is based at the Kent Event Centre at Detling, near Maidstone. While most locals will already know the site was used as an airfield in both world wars, they may not be aware of its rich military history spanning more than 2000 years. An early study of the site by the CEMA team has uncovered evidence of a Roman watchtower, Saxon fortifications and a well-preserved Norman motte and bailey castle to the north of the site.

Interest in the trench for filmmaking purposes has already been high with three companies using it as a key location already since work began on the site in March 2021. “The Fronts of War” by writer and director Thomas Gardner, based at the University of Central Lancashire, is a short film telling the story of a lieutenant receiving a letter from his wife telling him about the birth of their child. Gardner was influenced by the Peter Jackson film, “They Shall Not Grow Old”, on which Andy worked, and wanted to make a film focusing on personal lives. Following submission to a number of UK film festivals, the final film will be hosted on the CEMA website after its release.

The trench will also be used as a principle location in the forthcoming Great War drama “Life Underground”, which focuses on the relationship between a lieutenant and a sergeant. Writer and director Peter Hogenson from the London Film School explained that the target audience for the film would be both “the LGBTQ community and those interested in military history and history as a whole.”

Executive producer Jaina Liu, said she had visited more than ten trenches during her search for the perfect location and found that those “at CEMA are by far the best.”

Booking the site for filming can be done on the centre’s website at https://cemahistory.org

You can follow the team’s on CEMA’s social media platforms:-

Facebook: @cemahistory

Instagram: @cemahistory

YouTube: CEMA History

Key partners in the project can be contacted at:-

Andy Robertshaw – CEMA Historical Director

andy@cema.education (07768 065054)

Ross Barnwell – CEMA Creative Director

ross@cema.education (07832 180479

Mark Ingarfield – CEMA Business Director

mark@cema.education (07799 677712)

Becky Parrock – Marketing Coordinator, Kent Event Centre

becky@kentshowground.co.uk (01622 633058)