A Brief History

The Norman Cross 'depot' (prisoner of war camp) was built in 1797 by the Admiralty to hold prisoners from the Napoleonic wars. It was the first purpose-built depot. At its busiest it housed 7000 prisoners, guarded by 500 soldiers.
 
To occupy their time, the prisoners created exquisite marquetry and carvings, many of which can be seen in Peterborough Museum's extensive collection.
 
In 1814 following the defeat of Napoleon, the prisoners were repatriated and the wooden depot was largely dismantled. The few brick-built buildings remain as private houses and an art gallery, and earthworks are visible where the site used to be.

In 1913 Dr James Thomas Walker wrote "The Depot for Prisoners of War at Norman Cross, Huntingdonshire, 1796 to 1816".
 
In 1914 a memorial was erected by the Entente Cordial Society to the 1770 prisoners who died in the depot. The memorial was a bronze eagle atop a stone column, and was located next to the north-bound Great North Road (A1) adjacent to the site.
 
In 1990 the column was illegally demolished and the eagle was stolen.
 
In 2005 an appeal to provide a new memorial came to fruition with the inauguration of a new eagle, created by sculptor John Doubleday, at a new location next to the A15.
 
In 2009 Channel 4's 'Time Team' undertook an archaeological dig on the site and made some significant finds - broadcast 3rd October 2010.

In 2014 we marked both the Bicentenary of the closure of the depot in 1814, and the Centenary of the erection of the Memorial Eagle in 1914.
 
In 2018 Paul Chamberlain wrote "The Napoleonic Prison of Norman Cross - the Lost Town of Huntingdonshire", the first detailed publication about the depot since Dr Walker's book in 1913. Available at the Friends' AGM (1st June) and on eBay.

The Friends of Norman Cross organises events and trips related to the history of this unique site.


The Central Block House
The Replacement Memorial Eagle (Paul Biggins)
 

The Plaque attached to the Memorial (Paul Biggins)
IN MEMORIUM
THIS COLUMN
WAS ERECTED AD 1914 TO THE MEMORY OF
ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED & SEVENTY
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS
NATIVES OR ALLIES OF FRANCE
TAKEN PRISONERS OF WAR DURING THE
REPUBLICAN AND NAPOLEONIC WARS
WITH GREAT BRITAIN AD 1793-1814
WHO DIED IN THE MILITARY DEPOT
AT NORMAN CROSS WHICH FORMALLY
STOOD NEAR THIS SPOT 1797-1814
DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI
ERECTED BY
THE ENTENTE CORDIALE SOCIETY & OTHER FRIENDS
ON THE INITIATIVE OF THE LATE W H SANDS ESQ
HONORARY SECRETARY OF THE SOCIETY