HOW DID THE PROJECT TO EXCAVATE THE WW1 MILITARY SITE HILL 80 COME TO BE?

The extremely well-preserved German First World War trench position containing the bodies of German and British soldiers was finally excavated after archaeologists raised enough money to conduct a major dig, before housing developers build on the land. 

Hill 80 near the Belgian village of Wijtschate (or Whitesheet as the British called it) was a German outpost from late 1914 to 7 June 1917, when it was captured by the British during the battle of Messines.

Because the Germans held the position for so long - while others frequently changed hands - they were able to build a network of trenches fortified like few others. To many German soldiers, Hill 80 became home.

After the guns fell silent, the trenches, which overlook Ypres, were filled back up with dirt and the position was forgotten about - until now. 

The site was rediscovered in 2015 when housing companies wanting to build on it were forced by Belgian law to conduct initial archaeological tests. 

Because no farming had taken place on the land, the trenches were found to be extremely well-preserved: Archaeologists discovered bullets, uniforms, water bottles, combs and even the bodies of German and British soldiers beneath the dirt. 

Under Belgian law, housing companies have to conduct a minimum excavation before they can build - but no company has been prepared to pay for this meaning any building is on hold, for now

This sparked a team of archaeologists to fundraise for a full and proper excavation before any housing company changes its mind and pays for a smaller excavation which scientists and historians say would be inadequate.

The Hill 80 project, organised by battlefield archaeologist Simon Verdegem, successfully raised £123,000 ($163,000) from a kickstater campaign with the support of historian Dan Snow and comedian Al Murray.

Project leader Mr Verdegem said he wanted to find as many bodies as possible so he can try and identify them and give them a proper burial.

Speaking to MailOnline in February, he said: 'Our initial study has shown the presence of a mill factory, together with fighting and communication trenches. But of course you never know how good the preservation of these archaeological features is until you go into the field.

'Because parts of the site haven't been ploughed since the war, many things remained untouched. The preservation is unique.

'We're expecting to find a well and deep German fighting trenches with communication trenches, all connected to the preserved foundations of the farm buildings.

'We'll also find traces of the fighting from 1914 and 1917 including the remains of British and German soldiers.

'Hopefully we can find cellars underneath the farm buildings or tunnels connecting the village to the front lines. It would be amazing if we can find tunnels that start from the cellars of the buildings.'

Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/fb-5947601/HOW-DID-PROJECT-EXCAVATE-WW1-MILITARY-SITE-HILL-80-COME-BE.html

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HOW DID THE PROJECT TO EXCAVATE THE WW1 MILITARY SITE HILL 80 COME TO BE?

Source:Daily Mail

HOW DID THE PROJECT TO EXCAVATE THE WW1 MILITARY SITE HILL 80 COME TO BE?