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Plugstreet Blog

This is the new blog of the Plugstreet Archaeological Project.

   A Great War themed project exploring sites around Comines-Warneton and Messines in Belgium.    The project is being led by members of No Man's Land - The European Group for Great War    Archaeology and the Comines-Warneton Historical Society.

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We are currently seeking a sponsor for this website as it follows the progress of the excavations on the battlefield, with contributions from established historians and well known experts, as the team attempt to match the historical evidence and family history to the archaeology on the ground.

Please contact us for more details.

If you enjoy this website please consider making a donation towards the costs of the project.

Operation Kiwi

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

For our 2013 Season we will be undertaking work a little closer to home, but with a strong link to our work at Plugstreet. Between the 7th and 29th of September 2013, No Man’s Land will be working with Staffordshire County Council to excavate the Messines Model on Cannock Chase.

During the Great War significant training camps and attendant facilities were established on Cannock Chase. These included two Divisional training camps, roads, railways, power station, ranges, training trenches and instructional models.

One of the most unusual Great War features identified is a scale model of a sector of the Western Front. Such models are known from Allied Reserve areas where they were used for instructional purposes ahead of an offensive. A well-known example was created south of Ypres in advance of the 1917 Battle of Messines, and the Australian War Memorial holds a number of photographs of troops inspecting the model. A second example is said to have been created ahead of the Battle of Cambrai (Peter Simkins, pers. comm.) also from 1917. However, neither model is believed to have survived and, more significantly, no other examples are known from the UK.

The Cannock model is believed to have been constructed by members of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB) who captured the village of Messines during the battle. The model is known to have survived into the inter-war years when it became a tourist attraction with an attendant who acted as guide to the site. With the onset of World War II, and the return of military training to the Chase the site became overgrown and was lost.

We are looking for volunteers to join us for this unique opportunity, please telephone 0121 449 6563 or email cannockwwiexcavations@gmail.com to register your interest and book a place.


Flanders Mud

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

This morning we woke to a beautiful red sky and birds singing in Plugstreet wood, with the temperature a few degrees higher than it has been since we arrived. The site was still very wet, giving us an authentic experience of Flanders mud, which clings to everything, weighing down every step.

Site of the Interpretive Centre

Despite the difficulties of moving about on site and having to bail out the trenches before work could begin, by mid morning we were looking at some distinct features and work was progressing well.

Trench 6

The onset of steady rain forced a retreat to L’Auberge for an early lunch, which turned into an extended lunch as the rain became heavier. When it eventually stopped, we struggled back into our soggy waterproofs and headed back onto site. As expected the trenches were once again flooded and so reluctantly we had to declare that rain had stopped play.

Flanders Mud

Lets hope the weather forecast is correct and tomorrow will be a drier day.


Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

This week we have a small team in Flanders, undertaking an evaluation of the site for the new interpretation centre prior to building works beginning.

Starting the evaluation trenches

Starting the evaluation trenches

We will be looking at the area of the main building and the car park.

More photos are available at:


Plugstreet on the Wireless

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Tonight Martin will be talking to Win Scutt about our work on Vic Morgan’s Late Show ,on BBC radio at 22.30. Those of you in Devon, Cornwall and the Channel Islands will be able to receive the wireless broadcast via your local BBC radio station on 103.4FM and 95.7FM, if you live elsewhere, you can tune in via DAB or listen on-line at http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/devon
The broadcast will be available via the iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d7fn until next Monday and a selection of Win’s archaeology podcasts are available at www.archaeology.ws


England v Germany

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Having received a challenge from a group of young Germans who are working in Flanders with the VDK, a football match was held in the field across the road from the Plugstreet Memorial. Despite the age disadvantage, our team scored first! Three cheese (yellow) cards were issued by the referee and one ham (red) to our cameraman for joining in play from the sideline. Alastair made some fantastic saves against the excellent skills of the opposition. Thanks to Claude from the Plugstreet Auberge for arranging the match and providing half time beers for our team (sorry Germany your players were too young to drink)

Final score was 7-4 to Germany.

A good goal!


Plugstreet 2011

Monday, July 25th, 2011

The 2011 season begins today, it’s good to be back on site with old friends and new. This year we are continuing investigations near Ultimo crater, hoping to resolve the 3 year long puzzle of Team Nosferatu’s epic excavations, Avril’s team will be looking at an area ajoining last year’s trench and Kirsty’s team will be looking at the German third line.


Current Archaeology Awards Nomination

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

The Plugstreet Team are very pleased to announce that The Plugstreet Archaeological Project has been nominated for the Research Project of the Year in the Current Archaeology 2011 Awards.

Current Archaeology Awards

Voting is online at:


please scroll down to the bottom of the page to register your vote.
The magazine also has a very extensive article detailing our work.

Click on the image to read it.



DVD Now Available

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

On the 22nd of July 2010 Pte. Mather was laid to rest with full military honours in the presence of members of his family, almost two years after his remains were recovered from the battlefield at St Yvon by members of the Plugstreet Archeological Project.

The film of the burial service and wreathlaying at the Menin Gate is now available on DVD.

Click for details.



All profits from sales of this film will be used towards the post-production costs of a documentary detailing the archaeological process of his discovery and identification which will be available to pre-order soon.


Magazines (the literary sort)

Friday, September 10th, 2010

The project currently features in the two leading archaeological magazines in Britain.
British Archaeology includes a piece on Alan Mather’s identification.
Meanwhile Current Archaeology includes seven pages on the Plugstreet Project with maps, photographs and other illustrations.
You can find British Archaeology in some larger newsagents and supermarkets and Current Archaeology is available via its publishers:
There is also a feature in the August edition of Britain At War


Avril’s Trench

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

In July, Avril’s team returned to look at the area of communication trench examined in part in 2009. More of this comms trench was uncovered with its postholes and armoured cable and ceramic insulators. In addition fragments of light bulb were recovered. The team also excavated a hearth and a timber floor into which a further brick-lined hearth was set. Close to this was a Schnapps glass, the remains of a cauldron and there was evidence for shell damage. It is tempting to think of the German garrison trying to make the best of rations in their front line yet at the same time providing a smoke signal as to their whereabouts for British artillery. There is still much to be learned about this area of the excavation…

The timber flooring and brick-lined hearth in Avril's area
Timber flooring and a brick-lined hearth in Avril’s area




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