PUPILS from two local schools got more than they bargained for when they unearthed a long-lost Second World War defence site during an archaeological project.

Zoe Timney and Connor Law, both aged 17 and from the Chase High School, Malvern, were joined by Jamie Turner, 14, from John Masefield High School, Ledbury, for a work experience week with Worcestershire County Council’s historic environment and archaeology service .

While conducting archaeological surveys at Leopard Hill, Ronkswood Nature Reserve, in Worcester, they discovered the site had actually been a ‘searchlight emplacement’ dating back to 1940.

It had been manned by the Royal Artillery and tasked with identifying and destroying German aircraft before they had a chance to carry out devastating attacks on munitions factories in Birmingham and Coventry.

Jamie, who lives in Cradley, said: “First we looked at research and found pictures of other sites that looked similar then we went out on site and measured it and it matched the measurements for a hut they used. We were the first people to do it and now it’s all gone down in records.”

Their findings were supported by Mick Wilks and Colin Jones – experts from the Defence of Worcestershire Project – who revealed it had long been known that there was an emplacement in Ronkswood but that its exact location was previously unknown.

It is now one of a just a few such sites surviving as earthworks in Worcestershire and includes an anti-aircraft machine gun pit, trenches and Nissen hut platforms, all visible as grass-covered features. Deborah Overton, Worcestershire County Council historic environment record officer, said: “Standing on Leopard Hill, it’s easy to understand how strategically important this site would have been as it gives fantastic views over the whole of the city.

“Fortunately, because it lies within a nature reserve, it will continue to be preserved for future generations.”

Pupils from the Chantry High School, Martley; Trinity High School, Redditch; South Bromsgrove High School; and Cleeve Secondary School, Bishop’s Cleeve also took part in the project at the start of this month.