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The Plugstreet Archaeological Project

Exploring, through forensic archaeology, the human story of the Battle of Messines.

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Ploegsteert sector battlefield experience, tour the southern sector of the Ypres salient with a qualified guide.

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

Latest News

The 3rd Battle of Ypres

100 Years ago today the 3rd Battle of Ypres was launched. Today we remember all those affected by the long desolate fight to the east of the city of Ypres. The successful outcome of the Battle of Messines had straightened the line south of the city in preparation for the major attack. Many of those […]



Today's Featured Find

German Trench Boards

The Great War of 1914-1918 took place barely a century ago, at the start of the Plugstreet Project, men who had taken part in these battles were still alive and the memories of numerous others live on in their letters, memoirs and in some cases oral history recordings. Across the world archives hold thousands upon thousands of documents, maps and photographs. What could we possibly learn from excavating the landscape upon which such well documented events took place?

The Plugstreet Project is the first attempt in any period of archaeology to follow a military unit from formation through training, to a baptism of fire, in an attempt to establish whether their training had indeed been successful. In addition it aims to examine the ongoing effect of the conflict, over a lifetime ago, on the residents of the area and also the families of over half a million men who fought in these fields.

By combining the findings on site with documentary evidence, academic and scientific investigation, the team set out to discover the story of the Battle of Messines, one of the least know but perhaps one of the most decisive battles of the Great War.

This website tells that story and provides an opportunity for the families of those who lived and died in these fields, to share their own little slice of history, so helping to build the true picture of this landscape and the lives it has touched.

The Plugstreet Archaeological Project website is currently under development.  Please see our Archaeology section for an introduction    to our work.


The Plugstreet Archaeological Project is a non-profit project run by volunteers, we are seeking funding to help with project costs, to enable us to share our results via this website and to complete a documentary film on our discoveries so far.

If you would like to advertise your business on this website by sponsoring one or more pages, please get in touch, we have many pages still available and our current hit rate is averaging 50,000 hits per month.

For further details please see Sponsorship and Advertising.

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

The Plugstreet Project is lead by No-Man's-Land Archaeology Group, a multinational team of volunteers specialising in the study of the First World War though archaeological excavations, historical research, map work and aerial photography. Working with academic departments, local and international partners, cutting edge techniques are being employed to gain a greater understanding of life in the trenches and the effect of the war on the local population.

German ammunition pouches found in the front line.

Team members recording excavation of British front line trenches.

The Cross of Sacrifice at Messines Ridge Cemetery.

The Menin Gate, Ypres.

Delving into almost any family history is likely reveal some form of upheaval around the time of the Great War. Almost everyone found their lives, friends, families, work and environment changed forever. In today's hectic world where travel and international communication are a part of everyday life, more and more people desire to reflect on their own roots and to discover more about their own families.

As the Great War slips from living memory into the realms of history, there is a growing fascination with the conflict, something that will only increase with the approaching Centenary celebrations. The battlefields of the Western Front have recently witnessed an increase in visitor numbers, bringing much needed income for the communities whose lives are still affected by the conflict, which took place on their land.

This website will provide in-depth information through video clips, audio, photographs, diagrams, text and 3d interactions. It will also provide a platform to assist people in discovering their own family history and links to the Battle of Messines, providing a place for discussion, sharing of photographs and other information. This will help to build knowledge of the battle, the men who saw action, and the experience of those on the home front, on both sides of the conflict. Mobile content to aid visits to the Battlefields is also planned and the project is also closely associated with the new museum planned for the village of Ploegsteert.

The website will evolve with the Plugstreet Project, through collaboration within the team, with other experts and via interaction with the audience. The interface will be user friendly and provide maximum accessibility, encouraging even the least computer literate to engage in the exchange of stories and sharing of information. We aim to build upon the social aspects to foster ongoing contact between diverse individuals across the world, who share a common link in their association with the Battle of Messines.

The media production team are an integrated part of the project, recording the excavations as they are undertaken, working with the historians to collate and present the information uncovered. As the project progresses, the team wish to share their discoveries with a wider audience through online multimedia content.

We are currently seeking funding and/or sponsorship for the media content. The design of the multimedia elements will be innovative and engaging whilst maintaining the narrative and maximising the user experience. We aim to enable an expansion of knowledge of this key battle of the Great War, by sharing stories across the globe and enhancing the understanding of the experience of the man on the battlefield and his family back home.

DVD Now Available

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 to purchase on DVD.

This broadcast quality video runs for 60mins and is region free.

The footage was taken by the Team's own film crew, who had priority positions at both the funeral service at Prowse Point and at the Menin Gate on the previous evening when members of Alan Mather's family and representatives from the Australian Military laid wreaths. An emotional time as it was the final ceremony at which Pte. Mather could be counted amongst the missing, as the following day he was laid to rest in a marked grave.

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.

"Digging Up Plugstreet" by Richard Osgood and Martin Brown, an account of our research to date is now available

The compelling story of the Australian soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division who journeyed to England in 1914, and who fought and died on the Western Front during the First World War. Using archaeology as the vehicle for their story, Martin Brown and Richard Osgood follow in the footsteps of the 'Aussies', from their training on windswept Salisbury Plain to the cheerless trenches of Belgium, where they 'dug-in' north-east of Ploegsteert to face the Germans. It presents a unique window into the world of the men who marched away to fight the so-called 'war to end wars

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