The Nunnery is one of the most well-preserved Roman fortresses that exists in the British Isles. Nazi Germany soldiers built the bunker within the Nunnery during their occupation of the archipelago just off the coast of Normandy in France. Adolf Hitler’s men were based on the Channel Islands from June 1940 to May 1945 and it was the only successful seizure of British territory made by the Axis in World War 2.
During their occupation, they transformed the Island into a heavily fortified base, with bunkers, anti-tank walls and tunnels.
There were also two concentration camps built on the Island, and last year a study published in the journal Antiquity brought new insights into the camp called Sylt.
The Germans built one of these army bunkers inside the Nunnery’s 10-foot-thick walls.
Volunteers from Dig Alderney, a charity organization that supports archaeological research on the island, helped with the excavations which took place this summer.
Archaeologist Jason Monaghan said: “We found a whole succession of buildings, drains and mystery walls intersecting each other.
He added that the team has “just come across three floors all on top of each other and [is] trying to disentangle what eras they come from”.
Mr Monaghan said: “The beautiful thing about [the Nunnery] is that it is very small and very easy to understand.
“A lot of archaeological sites you go there and you actually need a PhD to understand what’s going on.
“But the Nunnery you can understand – it’s a fort, it’s guarding the bay, it’s got walls, it’s got towers, you can very easily get your head around it.
“Around 1906 the buildings were converted for use by military families and the earlier ramparts buried. [Then] the Germans extensively refortified the site during the occupation.”
The Nunnery has been in use for over 1,700 years and overlooks Longis Bay.
Mr Monaghan reported in 2011 for Current Archeology that Romans had constructed the military outpost somewhere towards the end of the fourth century, at a time when their control over Britain had started to weaken.
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The Romans equipped the fortress with what was at the time state-of-the-art defence technology, installing things like battlement crenelations.
Crenelations refer to the low defensive parapet usually seen on medieval castles and are the most common form of defence architecture.
Excavations actually began on this site in the 1930s, but they were not able to determine the evidence for the age of the fortress until 2011.
At that time, the ruins of a tower in the centre of the fort, Roman-era walls and a gateway were discovered by Mr Monaghan and his colleagues.