with Dr Yvonne Marshall & Dr Kayt Armstrong

Linking to Shire Hall’s current temporary exhibition Radical Dorset’s look at protest, this talk seeks to look at a well-known protest site from a very different perspective.

From 1981-2000 ‘peace women’ protesters maintained camps at some or all of the gates into the US Airforce Base at Greenham Common, Newberry, Berkshire. Their protest was against the planned deployment of nuclear Cruise missiles at the Greenham base. The number of protesters varied widely as women from across the globe came and went. For the ‘Embrace the Base’ protest day more than 20,000 women came to Greenham, but at other times numbers fell well below 100. The protesters lived in improvised plastic ‘benders’ and actively sought to ‘live lightly on the land’ leaving as little footprint as possible. In addition, the women were subject to repeated evictions and for several years evictions could happen on a daily basis.

The Common Ground Project, conducted from 2003-6 sought, among other objectives, to document and characterise the archaeology of the women’s camps. In the first instance we simply wanted to find out if such a thing as a peace women’s archaeological record could be identified at Greenham. Happily we did find one. This paper offers a brief summary of that archaeology and in particular discusses the character of the peace women’s settlements at four sites of occupation.