Lochnagar Crater - History and Facts | History Hit

Lochnagar Crater

Ovillers-la-Boisselle, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy, France

The Lochnagar Crater is a large indentation in the earth in France where one of the explosions was set off which signalled the start of the Battle of the Somme.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lochnagar Crater

The Lochnagar Crater (Lochnagar Mine Crater) located in the village of La Boisselle in France’s Picardie region, is the site where one of the first explosions of the Battle of the Somme took place on 1 July 1916.

Lochnagar Crater history

The Lochnagar Crater was created by a large mine placed beneath the German front lines on the first day of the Battle of the Somme by British miners. It was one of 19 mines that were placed beneath the German lines from the British section of the Somme front, to assist the infantry advance at the start of the battle.

Set off by British forces at 7:28am, the mine which created the Lochnagar Crater was one of the biggest ever detonated at that time and Lochnagar Crater itself is an astounding 100 metres (328 feet) in diameter and 30 metres (98 feet) deep.

The reason the Crater is was so large was that the chambers were overcharged. Meaning sufficient explosive was used to, not only break the surface and form a crater, but enough to cause spoil to fall in the surrounding fields and form a lip around the Crater of approximately 15ft high, to protect the advancing British troops from enfilade machine-gun fire from the nearby village of La Boisselle.

The Crater was captured and held by British troops but the attack on either flank was defeated by German small-arms and artillery fire – except on the extreme right flank and between La Boisselle and the Lochnagar Crater.

Lochnagar Crater today

Today, visitors can see Lochnagar Crater, either as a one off site or as part of the Circuit of Remembrance, a route which explores the Battle of the Somme, one of the biggest battles in World War One.

Lochnagar Crater has been preserved as a memorial to all the men and women of all nations who suffered in the Great War and now has in excess of 200,000 visits a year, many of them British and French schoolchildren.

In 1986 a large cross of medieval wood was erected close to the lip. It was made with roof timbers from an abandoned, deconsecrated church close to Durham – most likely a church used by some of the soldiers from Tyneside who themselves fell at Lochnagar.

On the anniversary on July 1st, a remembrance ceremony is held at the exact time of the explosion. It is often attended by up to 1,000 people.

Getting to Lochnagar Crater

The address of the location is 3 Route de la Grande Mine, 80300 Ovillers-la-Boisselle, France. Head for the village of La Boisselle which is on the D929 between the town of Albert and the village of Pozières. On arrival at La Boisselle look out for the signs to La Grande Mine.

Featured In

WWI Battlefields to Visit

Discover the history of World War One at these historic battlefields, memorials and monuments in Belgium and France.

France Historic Sites

From towering imposing castles to First World War trenches, ancient Roman ruins to historic Revolutionary sites, France is brimming with relics of its esteemed and turbulent history. Here's our pick of 10 of the very best attractions in the country.

WW1 Battlefields France

France bore witness to many bloody battles during World War One, and is home to the remains of many battlefields, memorials and museums as a result. Here's our pick of 10 of the most important attractions for anyone with an interest in France's World War One history.