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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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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.


Remembrance Day

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent, 92 years later we pause to spend a minute in silence to remember those who fell in the war to end all wars and in the conflicts which have followed.

Today the Plugstreet Team will be attending Remembrance Day services across the world. Please click here to join us in a moment of reflection to remember those who gave so much.

Lest We Forget

Remembrance events attended by members of the Plugstreet Team include:_

  • The opening of the Afghan Memorial Garden at Lydiard Park on Tuesday. This field of remembrance is dedicated to those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and will be open daily from 9am to 4pm from November 9 until November 21.
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  • The service at Victoria Station, London, to commemorate the
    90th anniversary of the arrival of the body of the Unknown Warrior prior
    to his interment on 11.11.20 in Westminster Abbey. Organised by the London branch of the WFA, small exhibition is held at platform 8, on the evening of the 10th of November, with the Last Post and two minutes silence without interruption from station announcements. This year there was a very good turnout, complete with British Legion
    flags and about eight wreaths, mostly from rail companies and staff. Click to view a slide show of photos.
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  • The re-dedication of the war memorial at Ingrow station on the Kieghley and Worth Valley line. This memorial to railwaymen who fell in the Great War, has recently been re-discovered.

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  • Northampton Branch of the WFA, where Martin gave an evening talk on our work.
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  • RAF Middleton St George Remembrance Service at Durham Tees Valley Airport.This service remembers the contribution of the Commonwealth Forces to both world wars and current conflicts, especially the RCAF who were based there during the Second World War. This year the service was well attended despite atrocious weather, fortunately the heavy rain stopped just before the service began and as the wreaths were laid, a rainbow appeared over the St George Hotel, previously the Officer’s Mess when the base was active.



Evening Lecture – Lewes, this Friday

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Martin will be giving an evening lecture for the Lewes Archaeological Group on the Plugstreet Project at 19.30 on Friday 1st October.

The lecture will be in Lewes Town Hall (Lewes, East Sussex) and there is a small charge for people who are not members of the Group.

There will be an opportunity to purchase copies of the book “Digging up Plugstreet” after the lecture.


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




More Music and Dance

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Martin was away in Brittany with Chippenham Town Morris last weekend. He discovered that after he had told the news of Alan Mather’s identification to the rest of the side in July they had gone to the pub and drunk a toast to Alan.
Also while away Martin and Dave C were asked to sing “Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by the Squire (boss) in memory of Alan. It wasn’t up to June Tabor’s standard but was equally felt.


On Larks Ascending

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

One of the major elements that the project wished to pursue at its inception was a multi-disciplinary approach. To this end, in addition to the archaeological survey and fieldwork, there have been components such as photography, art and music.

Some may remember the visit of the renowned Wagnerian opera singer, Sir John Tomlinson (the Wotan of his generation!), to site in 2007. This summer another opera singer, Amanda, visited. She had performed a stirring rendition of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ at Alan’s funeral and it was our privilege to show her round the excavations.

James and Martin provided a musical evening at the Peace village with small pipes and mandola (and such hits as ‘Follow me ‘ome’) whilst another astonishing element was occurring back in the UK

At the hour of Alan’s burial, the famous folk singer June Tabor was singing three songs in his memory; ‘the Reaper’, ‘Long, Long, Trail’ and (for he is now at peace), ‘Waiting for the Lark’. June had been moved by Alan’s story and it was very special that she wanted to sing in his memory – the last song chosen as Alan was now ‘at peace’. Those not familiar with June’s beautiful voice and her association with the Great War can listen to some of her work on the link below.



Floral Tributes

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

The team must extend huge thanks to Sara Redstone and Carlos at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew for providing the beautiful wreath laid down at Pte Mather’s funeral by the team. With their experience of creating wreaths for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to lay down at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday they were able to create a stunning tribute. Composed of Australian flowers and foliage such as kangaroo’s paw and eucalyptus the other crucial element was a leaf of Kurrajong – the nickname of Alan’s unit within the 33rd Btn.

To them our sincere thanks

Detail of Australian plants


Wreaths and epitaphs for a soldier.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

“So far from home, never forgotten, may you rest in peace bearing an honoured name.”
It was with those words, the family of Alan James Mather, left his remains in a quiet cemetery in Belgium surrounded by wheat and cornfields and grazing cattle.
Listen to a radio interview with Kim Bloomfield, great grand niece of Alan Mather, speaks about their experiences in Belgium.


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