Memories of Dunwich Heath

Old photograph of visitor at Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018, we launched a history project to explore Dunwich Heath’s rich and intriguing past.

These days Dunwich Heath is a peaceful haven – a place for people to relax and unwind, and enjoy the fresh air and superb wildlife. But through the centuries, Dunwich Heath has had a much livelier background! Its ancient cliffs have seen smugglers and coastguards, shipwrecks and war. It has been fortified with anti-aircraft guns, tank defences and a radar station, and transformed back into precious wildlife habitat.

Our project will explore the many strands of Dunwich Heath’s history, particularly its social, military and natural history backgrounds. There is a wealth of heritage to discover and many stories to be told. There are tales of audacious smugglers landing their contraband on Suffolk beaches, and stories about the lives of the many coastguard families who lived in the row of cottages perched on top of the cliff. During the First World War, local trawlermen cleared mines from a vital supply route along the coast where rolling waves now conceal many shipwrecks. The Second World War transformed Dunwich Heath into a military landscape, poised to defend Suffolk’s shores.

Share your memories!

Over the years, many people have enjoyed visiting or living at this unique and special place. Some of their memories are captured in the stories and photographs in our archive, but this is something we’d love to expand! If you have memories of Dunwich Heath which you’d like to share with us, we’d be very pleased to hear from you! Whether you have stories or photos, you can help us piece together Dunwich Heath’s past. If you have original photographs which you don’t want to part with, you could choose to donate a ‘digital copy’ – we can easily scan your photograph and return it to you retaining only a digital image. Your memories will truly keep Dunwich Heath a special place for everyone, forever.

To contact us, please phone 01728 648501, or email

Old photograph of campers at Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

Celebrating 50 years of caring for Dunwich Heath!

We celebrated a special anniversary at Dunwich Heath in 2018, a year which marked 50 years since this beautiful site came into the care of the National Trust.