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The Plugstreet Archaeological Project

Exploring, through forensic archaeology,

the human story of the Battle of Messines.


Welcome to the website of The Plugstreet Archaeological Project, this site is currently in development.



This page is sponsored by:
L' Auberge, Ploegsteert, opposite the British Memorial to the missing of the Great War of 1914-1918.

If you would like to sponsor a page on this site, please contact us for more details.

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




Excavations on the Messines Ridge battlefield began in the summer of 2007, with the Plugstreet Team looking at an area around the two southern most of the 19 mine craters, Trench 122 Left and Right, more commonly known as Ultimo and Factory Farm.

The southern most boundary of the action of the Battle of Messines lies between these two craters, with the 3rd Australian Division taking and fortifying the higher ground of Ultimo Crater on the morning of the 7th of June 1917, whilst the mine at Factory Farm was exploded as diversionary tactic without follow up from the infantry. Four mines were laid further to the south, in a cluster known as Bird Cage, these remained unexploded, though one was ignighted by a lightening strike in the 1950's.



As the Plugstreet Team assemble for their first full day on site, project director, Martin Brown explains the lie of the land and the features to be investigated.


Select a trench to continue.
Trench 1

Trench 1 German Bunker

Trench 2 Ultimo Recut

Trench 2 Ultimo-Recut

Trench 3 Ultimo Trench

Trench 3 Ultimo-Trench

Trench 5 Lewis Sap

Trench 5  Lewis Sap


These videos aim to give a flavour of our work. An indepth documentary on DVD 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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